Hellenic Therapy Center offers counseling for individuals, adolescents, children, couples & families. Learn more about our therapies by selecting a link in the menu below.
Couples therapy/marriage therapy focus on the conflicts and disagreements between two people. The difference between a happily married couple or unhappy couple frequently involves the ability to discuss and resolve those differences in a positive manner that respects the interests and needs of each individual.
Common unhealthy, damaging relationship communications usually include interactions such as:
Dragging old information or experiences into a current argument
Put-downs, name calling (criticisms)
Hostility, or verbal or physical attacks on the other person
Lack of communication
Lack of intimacy (sexual problems)
Anger and Temper Issues
At Hellenic Therapy Center we see both members of the couple together, though oftentimes we will also see each person individually. The goals of marriage counseling are generally to help the couple:
Improve communication patterns
Develop empathetic, active listening skills
Improve problem-solving skills
Resolve conflicts in ways that meet the needs of both partners
Anxiety affects your whole being. It is a physiological, behavioral, and psychological reaction all at once. On a physiological level, anxiety may include bodily reactions such as rapid heartbeat, ability to act, express yourself or deal with everyday situations. Psychologically, anxiety is a subjective state of uneasiness. In most extreme cases, it can cause you to feel detached from yourself. A complete program of recovery from an anxiety disorder must address all three levels to reduce physiological reactivity, eliminate avoidance behavior and change your inner voice (self talk) from negative to positive.
The occurrence of four or more symptoms defines a panic attack:
Shortness of breath
Heart palpitations (rapid or irregular heartbeat)
Trembling or shaking
Fear of dying
Fear of going crazy or out of control
Dizziness or unsteadiness
Nausea or abdominal distress
We recommend treatment such as: relaxation training, cognitive therapy, reducing worrying behaviors, problem solving, practicing mindfulness, recommend lifestyle changes and depending on the severity, medication.
Self Esteem is a way of thinking, feeling and acting that implies that you accept, respect, trust, and believe in yourself. When you accept yourself, you can live comfortably with both your personal strengths and weaknesses without undue self criticism. When you respect yourself you acknowledge your own dignity and value as a unique human being. You treat yourself well in much the same way you would treat someone else you respect. Self-trust means that your behaviors and feelings are consistent enough to give you an inner sense of continuity and coherence despite changes and challenges in your external circumstances. To believe in yourself means that you feel you deserve to have the good things in life. It also means that you have confidence that you can fulfill your deepest personal needs, aspirations, and goals.
The truth about self esteem is that it needs to come from within. When self esteem is low, the deficiency creates a feeling of emptiness that you may try to fill by latching on – often compulsively - to something external that provides a temporary sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. When the quest to fill your inner emptiness by appropriating something from outside becomes desperate, repetitive, or automatic, you have what is called an addiction. Addiction is an attachment to something or someone outside yourself that you feel you need to provide a sense of inner satisfaction or relief. Frequently this attachment substitutes preoccupation with a substance or activity for healthy human relationships. It may also substitute a temporary feeling of control or power for a more lasting sense of inner confidence and strength.
A healthy alternative to addiction is to work on building your self esteem. Growing in self esteem means developing confidence and strength from within. While still enjoying life fully, you no longer need to appropriate or identify with something or someone outside yourself to feel okay. The basis for your self worth is internal. As such, it is much more lasting and stable.
Self Esteem: How do I feel about who I am? Self Esteem is how well we know ourselves. Self-knowledge develops over time as we face our fears and learn from our experiences. It originates in our families of origin, we do not inherit it. A young child’s primary lessons and experiences at home are the foundation from which all else derives. It is within the family that the child first learns who he or she is and what is expected of him or her. It is within the family that a young person forms the human bonds that to a large extent influence all subsequent relationships.
Parents are the best teachers of self esteem. How can you make a child feel lovable and capable? Research offers a variety of strategies but many include developing good communication, appreciating the uniqueness of each child, setting limits and expectations and fostering a sense of responsibility. A child with a healthy self esteem will act independently, assume responsibility easily, tolerate frustration well, approach new challenges with enthusiasm and exhibit a broad range of emotions and feelings. A child with unhealthy self esteem will demean his own talents, feel that others don’t value him/her, blame others for his/her own weaknesses, be easily influenced by others, become defensive and easily frustrated, exhibit a narrow range of emotions and feelings.
Unfortunately, sometimes due to our own family of origin issues, we as parents do not know how to foster this sense of healthy self esteem. There are many books on the topic of self esteem and professionals who can coach on what parents can do to strengthen their own self esteem to become a better model for their children. It is never too late to begin the process.
Oftentimes seeing the entire family together is helpful in understanding family systems and an approach favored by The Hellenic Therapy Center. This approach has demonstrated positive results for parents, children, adolescents and teens.
Any activity, substance, object, or behavior that becomes the major focus of a person’s life to the exclusion of other activities or has begun to harm the individual whether it be physically, mentally or socially is considered an addictive behavior. A person can become addicted to anything whether it be shopping, surfing the internet, food, alcohol, drugs, compulsive gambling, sex, work, running, or even another person. Most of us have at one time or another been “hopelessly devoted” to someone or have experienced some kind of obsessive attraction. Most of us also know what it feels like to believe “I’ve just got to have that “whatever”; and most of us have felt hysterical or upset because someone didn’t agree with us or give us what we wanted. If you have ever violated your values and ignored responsibilities to pursue an overpowering desire, then you understand the feeling of addiction.
Codependency frequently underlies addiction. A codependent person is someone whose core identity is undeveloped or unknown, and who maintains a false identity built from dependent attachments to external sources – a partner, a spouse, a boyfriend, family, appearances, work or rules. Codependency is essentially an addiction to security.
There are some common characteristics of addictive behaviors:
Depression is common in individuals with addictive behaviors
Low Self Esteem
Person hides the behavior
Person does not appear to have control as to when, how long, or how much he or she will continue the behavior
The person becomes obsessed with the object, person, activity or substance
The person will seek out the behavior even though they know it is causing harm with themselves and others
In therapy we work through many of these issues and study the family of origin because; depending on the individual; it is often helpful to understand how these behaviors originated. Other approaches include cognitive behavioral therapy, 12 step programs, and working extensively on building self esteem issues.
Individuals lacking in self esteem are likely to be very easily influenced by their environment or attracted to addictions. If the environment is perceived as unfavorable, their self esteem is lowered. Individuals with high self esteem are less influenced by the environment. They feel that they can master the environment and, thus, their self esteem is relatively stable. We are members of the National Council of Self Esteem and are committed to promoting a healthy self esteem in the community and individuals. This work goes hand-in-hand with overcoming addictions and attaining a healthier sense of self.
A Positive Divorce – The Good News.
The reality is that a successful relationship takes hard work and a successful divorce takes harder work. It’s difficult to stop being “intimate partners” and become just two people working together to raise a child. The good news is that with patience and persistence you can have a positive divorce.
Having a good divorce means identifying the reality of your situation and focusing on creating a positive response for your family.
Truths to keep in mind:
Family change hurts: It involves painful adjustments for parents, children and others. The good news is that there are things parents can do to ease the discomfort for children and themselves.
Parents are leaders for children: It can be difficult to lead anyone when you feeling injured, angry or fearful. The good news is that parents can do things to help themselves become stronger and work through their anger.
Single parenting is difficult: It can feel strange to be a parent without the safety net of a two-parent home (that is, comfort in knowing that someone else is there to help). The good news is that children can develop very well within two separate loving and supportive homes.
There are many things parents cannot control: People can feel anxious and scared when they cannot find a source of personal power in a difficult situation. The good news is that you do have control over your response to family change.
Establishing a Co-Parenting Relationship
The idea of cooperating with your former partner is any area may seem like an impossible job. However, when you have children it is a job that has to be done. Many parents have been quite successful, over time, in creating a partnership focused only on parenting issues. This new relationship looks and feels very different. It is called Co-Parenting.
On-going communication about the children’s needs and interests
On-going joint decision-making about the children’s needs and interests
Coming to terms with sharing time with children and parental responsibility
Co-parenting might be…
Being at the same event at the same time as the other parent
Being at a family holiday event at the same time as the other parent
Co-parenting is not...
Getting your needs met rather than focusing on the child’s needs
Maintaining a level of conflict because you can’t let go of the marriage relationship
Going back to husband and wife roles
Getting “back together” with the other parent
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can take place in anyone when a severe trauma occurs. These traumas can produce intense fear, feelings of helplessness and terror. It can occur when there is a plane crash, rape, assault, sudden death, earthquakes, or other violent crimes against you or your family.
Some of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder:
Nightmares related to the event
Feelings of hopeless about the future
Losing interest in activities
Feelings of detachment
Persistent symptoms of increased anxiety, such as difficulty falling asleep, or irritability
Repetitive, distressing thoughts about the event
Treatment for PTSD can impact your whole family. Your family may not understand why you get angry or why you are under so much stress. Family therapy is a type of counseling that involves the whole family. In therapy we help you and your family communicate more effectively, maintain good relationships and cope with some of the difficult emotions. Another form of therapy found to be very effective is cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you identify your fearful thoughts and replace them with more accurate and less distressing thoughts. This is also known as cognitive restructuring.
In some cases, it may be necessary for us to refer you to our psychiatrist for medication.
A mother/daughter relationship is one of the most important ties each will have in her lifetime. Many women have difficult relationships with their mothers and daughters, even when they want good relationships. A mother may wish her daughters happiness, yet—from the point of view of her daughter, she acts quite opposite. A mother may describe her daughter’s choices as failures criticizing her clothes, her music and friends.
Understanding the relationship is critical to young adult girls and the transition to womanhood. Daughters struggle to obtain autonomy as mothers try to protect and this is perceived as over-protectiveness and controlling. Encouraging a healthy mother daughter relationship is not an easy task. Here are some tips for mothers:
Accept your children as unique human beings
Avoid blaming your children if you have problems
Let your children grow up
Do not expect your children to change for your comfort
Evaluate your desires and life goals apart from your children
If you are having difficulty managing your mother/daughter relationship, we can help you gain a deeper understanding and acceptance of each other.
At the Hellenic Therapy Center, we will help in normalizing your feelings. What you are experiencing is a normal and appropriate response to an acutely traumatizing experience. We will work with the hurt partner in overcoming the profound sense of loss and with the unfaithful partner in overcoming conflicting choices and emotions.
We also assist in helping you decide whether to recommit to the relationship. If you choose to recommit to each other, you may in time come to see that it was not a horrific trauma, but rather a wake-up call for you both. We discuss the problems which led to the infidelity. In some cases, an affair will strengthen your marriage.
There are different types of losses that you might experience including loss of identity, sense of specialness, self respect, religious faith, connection with others, sense of purpose. Fear of intimacy and fear of change are common.
Rebuilding your relationship will take time to restore. You will learn ways in how to begin to trust your partner and accept intimacy. We also work on forgiveness.
Emotional eating can be described as episodes of binge-eating, grazing and/or eating when not hungry to soothe feelings. Emotional eaters have a pattern of eating to cope with stress, emotional conflicts and problems of daily life.
Emotional eating is eating for reasons other than hunger. Instead of physical symptoms initiating the eating, an emotion will trigger eating.
There are several differences between physical and emotional hunger. Emotional hunger comes on suddenly; physical hunger occurs gradually. Emotional hunger usually feels like it needs to be satisfied instantly, while physical hunger can wait.
How to recognize emotional eating?
Preoccupation with food
Concerned about body image
Difficulty identifying feelings and needs
Experiencing difficulty in social situations
Disconnection from signals of hunger/satiety
Constant dieting or yo-yo dieting
Emotional eating is not about food. What to eat or not to eat. Most of us know how to eat healthy meals. It’s about feelings. It’s about coping with life’s challenges by not using food for comfort. Instead of attempting to try another diet program, change your focus. Look within. You can overcome your addiction and preoccupation with food. Learning to process your feelings is the first step in recovery. You can start by journaling. Keeping a diary will help you explore the motivation underlying the emotional eating behavior.
Why do couples repeat the cycle several times of on and off before breaking things off permanently? When couples are faced with loneliness and low self esteem that accompany a break-up, they continually fall back on the temporary relief of reconciliation.
Couples continue to reunite out of persistent hope that the moments of happiness they have known will someday constitute the entire relationship. We begin to accept and find new ways of dealing with our partners shortcomings and overlook the original reasons for the break-up. Another reason for getting back together is the time invested in the relationship. After spending so much time and energy with someone it can be hard to accept that your efforts were a waste of your time. You question whether it’s worth starting all over again with someone new and instead accept what you already have.
Self esteem is at the root of this decision. Feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, inability to make new friends/partners often play a big role in whether you stay or leave the relationship. Ask yourself are you staying because you are in love with this person and how they are treating you or you fear moving on to the unknown?
If deep down inside you know that the relationship isn’t right, then get out. It’s easier said than done and it takes time to heal. Change the focus. Concentrate on working on your self esteem, surround yourself amongst friends, join a gym, seek professional help. Thinking you can change your partners worst habits, is wishful thinking… what you see, is what you get.
Living in a chemically abusing household in which alcohol or drug use is the central theme around which the family operates and tries to maneuver daily life – always has serious and profound effects on all family members. Abuse of a substance generally refers to a chronic pattern of excessive consumption even when there are negative consequences. These consequences can be physical, emotional, social, and/or financial. One gets hung-over sick, engages in domestic violence perhaps missing work or family functions. Inappropriate behavior becomes embarrassing to family members who quit inviting people over or going places as a couple or family. Relationships become strained with family and friends distancing themselves or even cutting off. Marriages take a serious toll; a couple may eventually isolate themselves from a normal social network. And often the financial cost of frequent alcohol and drug use can put a terrible strain on a family.
Family or others sometimes unwittingly contribute to the development and on-going abuse through nagging, denial, or attempts to control the abuser verbally or otherwise. Increasing aggression can develop over time in intimate family relationships. For example, verbal abuse or aggression early in a relationship can predict later physical aggression; physical aggression can, in turn, lead to more physical aggression as time goes on. Alcohol or drug use makes these relations between earlier and later aggression even stronger.
All the while the family is trying to hold on, believing, hoping, praying that things will change and get better. But it only gets worse as the family members try to cope and compensate for the abuser.
Recent research findings suggest that family therapy, support, and interventions from the outset are important strategies for both the abuser and the struggling, affected family members, caught in the trap of being overly responsible for their loved one.
Or, families and others close to drinkers and drug users can play a critical role in helping a user recognize a problem and seek help. Recognizing a behavior as a problem and making a decision to change are two different steps. Drinkers often cite family or interpersonal problems as important factors contributing to a decision to seek help. Research supports the effectiveness of family-based treatment interventions to help substance abusers. Behavioral couple therapy often leads to greater improvements in drinking or drug use than individually oriented therapy. Couple therapy also results in more stable and happier intimate relationships, better functioning children, and decreases in domestic violence, than therapy that does not include the partner and/or family. Contracting, relationship interventions, and better communication training are some examples of how therapy can help you, your partner, and your family.
If you have been affected by alcohol or drug use in your past or whether it is affecting your family now, we specialize in treating addictions and working with the entire family.
Animals provide companionship, acceptance, emotional support and unconditional love. If you understand this connection between human and animal, then you understand that coping with loss and grief of a pet is no different than when a person you love dies. It’s natural for family and friends to express sorrow for your loss for a human, unfortunately, many people do not understand how important animals can be in people’s lives. Many people may not even understand why you are grieving over the loss of your pet.
People consider their pet as part of the family. They oftentimes will celebrate their pets’ birthdays, take pictures with them and include them in family activities.
The grieving process is as individual as the person, and can last for days and yet for another for years. The grieving process is very much the same as when losing a close family member or loved one. The Kubler-Ross model, otherwise known as the five stages of grief include: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. You can experience all five stages and then begin the process from the beginning again. There is no timetable.
The loss of a pet may be a child’s first experience with death. The child may blame themselves, their parents, or the veterinarian for not saving the pet. Children may have feelings of depression, sadness and fear that other people they love may also be taken away from them. Trying to protect your child by saying their pet ran away can cause feeling of betrayal once they learn the truth. Expressing your own grief and allowing your child to grieve is a healthy way to approach the loss and the sadness. It is healthy to be able to talk about your pet and reminisce about all the happy times instead of avoiding the topic. Encourage your child to talk about your pet. You can prepare a memorial for your pet and have your child write a letter to their pet…it can be a cathartic experience for them.
Many people ask the question of whether they should replace their pet immediately. Rushing into this decision does not allow your child or other family members to experience the loss and sadness which is part of life. You will know when the right time is to adopt a new pet after giving yourself time to grieve.
Owning a pet provides many wonderful experiences including companionship, support and love. Pets have their own personalities and we grow to love them deeply. Do not allow others to minimize your loss when they say “it was just a pet”. Owning and caring for a pet takes a truly special individual. Take your time with your grief.
There are many wonderful pet-support groups and hotlines. If you find yourself unable to cope, you can seek counseling.
Family problems can manifest in the healthiest of families, resulting in challenging frustrating and painful interactions among family members. From little irritations to buried resentments, from dramatic arguments to feelings of guilt, disappointment, and anger we did not even know we had, our families often bring up the most intense emotions we experience, for better or worse.
Common concerns and Symptoms: Ideally, our families are those whom we can always rely on for support, from whom we draw strength and feedback, for whom we feel love and concern, and with whom we feel close and comfortable, openly sharing thoughts and feelings. In reality, few families meet this expectation 100% of the time, and in some cases, a person’s family is far from ideal, associated instead with stress, misunderstanding, anger, disconnection, and unmet needs. From our family of origin, we develop our expectations of others, communication skills outlook on life, ability to give and receive love, and coping skills, among myriad other traits and chronic family problems can have lasting effects. Family problems from mild to severe will challenge every family at some point. These can result from behavioral and mental health issues in the family or from specific stressful events. Common family problems include: grief, substance abuse, behavioral issues and academic concerns in children and adolescents, mental health concerns, separation, divorce or blended family adjustments, chronic illness, conflict and lack of communication.
Whatever the source, distressing family dynamics can greatly interfere with the functioning of every family member, including extended family, although those living in the same household are likely to be impacted more significantly than those who live apart. When family members do not get along, the tension can impact each family member’s mental and physical health, relationships, and even his or her capacity for routine tasks. Evidence of family problems can materialize through repeated family conflicts, dramatic behavioral shifts in children, adolescents, mood swings and depression.
Family therapy is designed to help families collaborate to address family problems. Family therapy addresses communication as well as any individual issues that may be interfering with the cohesiveness of the family system. Working with a therapist, families can expect to learn to understand one another better, communicate more effectively, and work proactively to disrupt unhealthy patterns.
Contact me today for a consultation