<![CDATA[TAMERA SCHREUR, MA, L.M.F.T. - Blog]]>Thu, 24 Mar 2016 02:46:33 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Starting Couple's Therapy, 5 things to know...]]>Wed, 23 Mar 2016 14:29:53 GMThttp://familytherapyinwestchester.com/blog/starting-couples-therapy-5-things-to-know
I think this is a great summary of important things to know when you start couple therapy.  Written by Dr. Nari Jeter.


5 Things to Know About Marital Therapy

It is common for couples to seek marital therapy when they are distressed, and perhaps, even contemplating divorce. When it feels like your marriage is “on the line,” the last thing you want to stress about is finding a marital therapist or what will happen in therapy. Here are five things to know about martial therapy that may help you ease into the process of working on your marriage with a professional.
1. Seek help from a therapist who makes you feel comfortable, and if possible, who is specialized. Finding the right “fit” with a therapist is essential, as the couple needs to feel at ease with the therapist. It is critical that couples who want to work specifically on their marriage see a mental health professional trained in addressing relationship issues. When couples seek therapy with a professional who is not properly trained or specialized in addressing marital issues, it may do more harm than good. Some signs that your therapist is qualified are that he/she has a degree in marriage/couple/family therapy, or is a mental health professional with special training/certifications in marital counseling, such as Gottman-based therapy, a PREP, Inc. certification, a PAIRS certification, or training in Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT). When in doubt, ask the therapist about his/her training and experience; you deserve to know with whom you will be investing your time, money, and relationship.
2. Marital therapists want to be fair and balanced. An experienced and well-trained marital therapist will not take sides, even though you may really want them to. Taking sides in marital therapy is detrimental for a few reasons. First, the therapist’s primary focus is enhancing the relationship. By taking sides, the therapist is splitting the relationship to “person A vs. person B.” The marital therapist should emphasize that, “We are all on the same team.” Second, by taking sides, the marital therapist may be reinforcing an existing dynamic of blaming in the relationship. Although the therapist may at times validate one person’s viewpoints, he/she should be making an effort to balance this for both individuals. Lastly, a therapist taking sides may discourage one partner from wanting to come to therapy. It is most ideal forboth partners to be at the sessions and be willing to work on the couple’s issues.
3. The marital therapist will not try to change your partner.Therapists know that they cannot make someone change; individuals must want to change themselves. Furthermore, telling people they have to change translates into something being “wrong” with them. Individuals who feel like they are being “picked on” will not want to come to therapy. Furthermore, effective marital therapists do not see marital problems as the result of one person’s shortcomings or mistakes. Their view is, “Something in the way the couple interacts is not working for them. How can we get the couple to change that problem dynamic?” Simply put, the problem is not you or your partner; it is the way you and your partner interact. A marital therapist is invested in getting both individuals to find healthier ways at handling conflict, overcoming differences, and ultimately, seeing the relationship as more important than themselves.
4. It will take time and money. Working on marital issues takes time, as it is likely that the couple’s ineffective relationship patterns have been established over time. Change will not occur overnight. Therefore, it is important to be motivated in therapy, but also have patience in the process. Consequently, there may be a considerable financial investment for marital therapy. Even if a couple attends therapy for one time per week for an entire year, at $150 per session, that’s a total of $7800. If you compare the cost of therapy to the financial cost of the alternative (say, divorce), we know that the legal fees for a divorce often surpass that estimate. Furthermore, it is difficult to put a dollar amount on the psychological and emotional turmoil that many couples, children, and families face after a divorce. Consider the money spent as an investment in one of the most important relationships of your lives.
5. Seek help before there is a crisis. If you are having struggles or find yourself “spinning your wheels” with marital issues, therapy can be very helpful. If you are the individual bringing up the idea of therapy, try doing it from a positive perspective, such as, “We have been having some struggles lately, and I just want us to get some help so we can get these issues resolved.” That may be received better than, “If you don’t go to therapy with me, I am leaving you.” However, if you are in crisis, don’t be ashamed to reach out to a therapist. Marital therapists are passionate about encouraging and healing relationships.
<![CDATA[The "I Am Right" Stance]]>Wed, 10 Feb 2016 21:51:50 GMThttp://familytherapyinwestchester.com/blog/the-i-am-right-stance
This Is the 1 Thing Ruining Your Relationship
by Kira Asatryan


 Getty Images
Kira Asatryan is a relationship coach and author of Stop Being Lonely
Avoid this cognitive trap!
Those of us who spend our lives helping people with their relationships talk a lot about behaviors. We encourage couples to say this instead of that and to act in this way instead of in that way. We also talk a lot about emotions – how to manage them and express them in constructive ways.While behaviors and emotions matter in relationships, the emphasis we put on them forces one of our central human attributes onto the back burner: our thoughts.

What role do our thoughts and beliefs play in the success or failure of our relationships?

As it turns out, one common thought pattern is highly toxic for relationships. You can view it as a core belief or as a mental stance… but I prefer to think of it as a cognitive trap. The trap is this: you believe that there is only one true reality. You believe in finding The Truth with a capital “T” and anyone who doesn’t buy into the truth you’ve uncovered is objectively wrong.

Simply put, when your mind can’t accept and validate multiple realities, your relationships will suffer.

Some common relationship maxims hint at the shortcomings of this belief. For example, “There are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth.” This simple truism highlights an understanding that my truth is not The Truth.
You’ve also likely heard someone say, “You can be right or you can be happy.” This saying points toward the fact that believing your reality is The Reality compels you to convince others – sometimes aggressively – that your reality is right. In the process, you’ll invalidate the other person’s reality, drive them away, and find yourself feeling less and less happy.
Let’s look at 3 specific ways the “single reality” mindset is undermining your relationships:

1. It makes your partner a second-class citizen.

When you believe that there is only one reality – and you’re the one pursuing it – you’ve put yourself in a (self-appointed) position of superiority. You’re basically saying that you hold the key to objective reality and your partner doesn’t. That doesn’t sound like a very fair arrangement, does it?
Whether you intend it or not, holding this belief creates a relationship where your partner is a second-class citizen. It throws the idea of an equal partnership out the window.
Even worse, taking a stance of superiority fosters feelings of contempt toward others… and according to renowned marriage researcher John Gottman, the presence of contempt in a marriage is the single biggest predictor of divorce.

2. It makes disagreements unresolvable.

Believing that you – and you alone – have access to The Truth undercuts your partner’s right to have their opinion respected. But respecting each other’s opinions is a pre-requisite for successfully resolving disagreements. These two ideas, taken together, illustrate how holding the “single reality” mindset makes disputes unresolvable.
To successfully resolve disputes, both sides need to have their realities acknowledged and validated by the other. You can fully understand another person’s perspective on something and still disagree. In fact, this is likely the healthiest way to disagree.
But without understanding the other person’s perspective first – because you cannot tolerate alternate perspectives – you are left with less healthy ways to disagree. These include steamrolling, badgering, and manipulating… all of which undermine the stability of the relationship.

3. It’s antagonistic.

This cognitive trap – believing that there is only one true reality – is profoundly divisive. It sets up a dynamic where you feel compelled to convince the other person of your perspective, not only because you want to “win” the fight, but because you want to save them from their “delusional” ideas.
In other words, when you feel the need to “convert” someone to what you believe to be The Truth, you’re driving a wedge between you and them.

You’re creating “otherness.” And what comes from “otherness”? Antagonism.

While it’s never easy to change a core belief, you certainly can get better at accepting and validating multiple realities. The first step is to replace the belief that there is only one true reality with a slightly modified one.

​This new belief would be: “I am the ultimate authority over my own reality.”

This new belief will serve you better in a few ways. First, it allows you to retain power and authority in the relationship – which you deserve to have – just in a narrower context. Second, it gives power and authority to the other person as well, allowing for balanced and productive interactions.
Only when both partners have power in the relationship can it finally be the harmonious union you’ve always dreamed of. Pull yourself out of this cognitive trap and start down the road towards better relating!
<![CDATA[Baby Boomers and Aging]]>Fri, 14 Aug 2015 20:36:29 GMThttp://familytherapyinwestchester.com/blog/baby-boomers-and-agingNice to be featured as a local expert in today's article on Boomers and Aging by Journal New's writer Karen Croke!

The Beatles played Shea 50 years ago. Can it be?  

Karen Croke, kcroke1@lohud.com10:08 a.m. EDT August 14, 2015
(Photo: Gannett News Service/Apple Corps Ltd.)
For boomers, the gap between the age we think we are, and our actual age, is growing.

I stumbled across a Twitter post the other day that had me thinking: It said that the crumbling of our reality arrives when we realize the age we think we are — in my case, 25 — is the age that your children actually are.

A few significant events recently have reminded me that I am no longer the age that I thought I was.

The first was someone mentioning that The Beatles' record-breaking concert at Shea Stadium took place 50 years ago, Aug. 15, 1965.

I remember that concert. I was young — extremely young, may I say — when it took place, but I remember the hysteria and that I was in love with the Fab Four, who seemed, at the time, so much older than I.

Fast forward 50 years and somehow dating Paul or Ringo still seems far-fetched.

Then there was a video that was shot with friends during a Fire Island summer in 1986 (you can start doing the math) that I just saw this weekend with that same group of friends.

As the DVD revealed our long-ago selves, we noticed we had significantly fewer inhibitions, wore much less clothing — in this case bikini tops and grass skirts — and drank tons of tequila. It was great until the realization hit us that our now-adult kids were probably having a similar experience, just in real time.

We turned to each other and said, "What happened?"

Not as in "where did the time go," but more like, how is it possible that we're not still 25? We feel 25! Few of us look like we're 25 (except Christie Brinkley). And it's not that, as invincible boomers, we're refusing to acknowledge our age. It’s more about having to finally recognize the passing of time.

"I think what happened as you and your friends watched that video is very normal," says Scarsdale-based family therapist Tamera Schreur. "And not just for baby boomers. Life keeps moving along and we are always caught up in the midst of living it. We can lose track of the passage of time until it gets telescoped for us, like in the old video. Seeing the actual footage of a video makes it pretty clear that time has passed. It can be a surprise in some ways to see it."

Schreur, who claims boomer status herself, can relate. "The other day at a park I watched a teenager doing cartwheel after cartwheel — flawlessly," she says. "For half a second I considered trying my old cheerleading skills and trying one myself. And then, thankfully, I came to my senses."

She explained the disconnect between our actual ages and the age we feel like and act like gets larger and larger as we get older: "Our feelings don’t always match reality. That can get in the way when we try to do something our body no longer is capable of doing easily. But this can work for us as a good thing too! It can inspire us to make some positive changes as we age and keep us focused on taking healthy care of ourselves."

I think my own form of ignoring reality stems from the actual term “50 years ago.” I can distinctly remember hearing an announcer intone those words during long, boring black-and-white newsreels on rainy day recess at W.L. Morse School in Sleepy Hollow. Fifty years ago, to me, always seemed like ancient history, as in the end of WWII ... or the actual beginning of time.

But now? The Beatles played Shea Stadium “50 years ago,” and it’s not such ancient history.

Schreur had some great advice for me. "So, if you watch another one of those Fire Island videos and are startled by the changes, think of it as an opportunity to reflect on how you want the rest of your life to look — and go after it!"

I think I might still have that grass skirt.

It happened 50 years ago

Crying, screaming, fainting fans greeted the Beatles for their Shea Stadium concert, Aug. 15, 1965

Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in about one minute in a fight on May 25, 1965

The March on Selma began on March 21, 1965. 

We got a glimpse of Mars. Yes, Mariner 4 relayed the first photos of the red planet on July 14. Take that, Curiosity. 

The Voting Rights Act was signed into law, Aug. 6, 1965

 On Nov. 9, 1965, a massive blackout left the entire Northeast in the dark. 

<![CDATA[Listen to the Voices in Your Head]]>Tue, 11 Aug 2015 21:18:58 GMThttp://familytherapyinwestchester.com/blog/listen-to-the-voices-in-your-headPicture
Have you seen it?  Pixar's newest release, Inside Out?  
It's good, really good.  Like, awesome.  Pixar is great at humanizing things that aren't human, like toys, fish and rats.   In this movie what is humanized?  Well, emotions!  And true to our expectations, Pixar does it with creative aplomb!

I'm recommending the movie for my clients, family, and friends.   

It's not just a movie for kids!  It's a movie for everyone.  We don't get Emotions 101 in our school core curriculum.   So, sometimes we miss out, or are delayed, in understanding some pretty important things about how our emotions work, how to take care of our emotions, how to make good choices when we feel a certain way, and how to connect to others emotionally in healthy ways.  All pretty important stuff.

Not understanding our  basic emotions and how to handle them in healthy ways can lead to lots of issues for individuals, for families, and for couples too. Even impact stuff at school and work and in our communities.  

It's the sort of stuff that can blow up on us at times.   The sort of blow up that can make you call a therapist for an emergency appointment! 

Dealing with emotions is the stuff of life.  For everyone.  We all have a full range of emotions.  Like the main character, Riley, in the movie, we all have joy, sadness, anger, fear and disgust.  We all are impacted by our emotions.   We all respond in various ways to our emotions.  Most people "like" some of their emotions more than others.  Riley sure does.  Honoring our range of emotions makes us stronger as people.  The movie is especially good at helping us understand the role and importance of sadness.  

Sometimes people respond to  their emotions in ways that aren't so healthy.  Sometimes people aren't even aware of the connection between their thoughts and actions-- and the emotions going on inside them.  I like to call it "Our Trio"--thinking, feeling, doing.  Each of us tends to lead with one part of the trio.  But we all do better if we connect each part with the other parts so our thoughts, feelings, and actions all connect and work together.  Therapists like myself often work with people to better understand their emotional self and how it impacts things around them--and how to get the unhealthy emotional reaction stuff headed the other way, to healthier responses.  

Inside Out is a fun, engaging and creative movie.  AND,  it deals with something really important--emotions.  The movie handles this big topic with genius.   And the movie is based on good science.  All round, it's a win win.

It's pretty cool for me, as a therapist, to see some of this "help" stuff being looked at and promoted in a popular movie, especially one geared for all ages! I think this movie will influence kids (and grownups) to understand emotions better.  And, that will lead to better relationships and healthier families.  Movies become part of our lives and shape our culture, for better or for worse.  This one is definitely for better!

Inside Out is a treasure.  Go see it, or see it again!  

Image by Rebekah Schott    rebekahschott.com

<![CDATA[How to be Crankier]]>Mon, 23 Mar 2015 21:55:00 GMThttp://familytherapyinwestchester.com/blog/how-to-be-crankier I'm a big advocate of putting the cell phone away when you are with those you love and care about.  Cell phones are great--and important these days, but can get in the way of things we really want in our lives.  Things like 
  • good connecting with our kids and partners 
  • quality time together
  • feeling special to someone
  • showing others you love them

The reality is we show and grow these things most of all by our behavior--what we DO.  It's what we DO that matters as much, and oftentimes more, far more, than what we SAY.

Research from Boston Medical Center came out this month and shows that, not only are we missing time and connection opportunities when we are on our phones, our attitudes are impacted in negative ways!  Basically, the study showed that parents  become irritable and crankier with their kids when using a cell phone.   The "distracting allure" of the phone takes over and makes you crankier when interrupted by your child.  That's a wake up call!
If that's true for parents and children, how about partners and spouses
The article is here:  
I'm really glad I read it.  It's made me think--and work to change some of my cell phone habits when I'm with those I love and care about most.  You might want to read and share it too!

<![CDATA[A little Help at the Holidays!]]>Fri, 26 Dec 2014 21:24:52 GMThttp://familytherapyinwestchester.com/blog/a-little-help-at-the-holidays
Hope today's front page feature of the Journal News helps a few people better manage the holidays and enjoy time together with family!
Here's the link:
<![CDATA[How to Get your Man to Listen Better]]>Wed, 15 Oct 2014 16:43:44 GMThttp://familytherapyinwestchester.com/blog/how-to-get-your-man-to-listen-betterI was recently interviewed by the Journal News and asked, what can a woman do to get her husband or boyfriend to listen better?  My responses focused on just that--what is in your power to do as a woman.  
Of course, there's alot the man can do also!  But that wasn't the article question... 

Here's the short article they wrote.  Hope it's helpful to you!


<![CDATA[Suicide and Depression]]>Wed, 13 Aug 2014 19:59:33 GMThttp://familytherapyinwestchester.com/blog/suicide-and-depression
I'm feeling pretty sad and surprised over the sudden death of Robin Williams.  Maybe you are too.   At this point, a day after his death, signs continue to indicate that he died by suicide.  And that he was deeply depressed.  And that he suffered with bi-polar mental illness and addictions.  
All really difficult stuff.  Lots of people are  struggling with putting this all together.  How could someone who makes us laugh so hard be so depressed as to take his own life? 

 Katie Hurley wrote an article called "There's Nothing Selfish about Suicide" yesterday  for the Huffington Post that I thought was pretty good.  She lost her father to suicide.  Here's part of what she wrote: 
I am a survivor of suicide...
Suicide is a decision made out of desperation, hopelessness, isolation and loneliness. The black hole that is clinical depression is all-consuming. Feeling like a burden to loved ones, feeling like there is no way out, feeling trapped and feeling isolated are all common among people who suffer from depression.

People who say that suicide is selfish always reference the survivors. It's selfish to leave children, spouses and other family members behind, so they say. They're not thinking about the survivors, or so they would have us believe. What they don't know is that those very loved ones are the reason many people hang on for just one more day. They do think about the survivors, probably up until the very last moment in many cases. But the soul-crushing depression that envelops them leaves them feeling like there is no alternative. Like the only way to get out is to opt out. And that is a devastating thought to endure.

Until you've stared down that level of depression, until you've lost your soul to a sea of emptiness and darkness... you don't get to make those judgments. You might not understand it, and you are certainly entitled to your own feelings, but making those judgments and spreading that kind of negativity won't help the next person. In fact, it will only hurt others.

As the world mourns the loss of Robin Williams, people everywhere are left feeling helpless and confused. How could someone who appeared so happy in actuality be so very depressed? The truth is that many, many people face the very same struggle each and every day. Some will commit suicide. Some will attempt. And some will hang on for dear life. Most won't be able to ask for the help that they need to overcome their mental illness.

You can help.

Know the warning signs for suicide. 50-75% of people who attempt suicide will tell someone about their intention. Listen when people talk. Make eye contact. Convey empathy. And for the love of people everywhere, put down that ridiculous not-so-SmartPhone and be human.

Check in on friends struggling with depression. Even if they don't answer the phone or come to the door, make an effort to let them know that you are there. Friendship isn't about saving lost souls; friendship is about listening and being present.

Reach out to survivors of suicide. Practice using the words "suicide" and "depression" so that they roll off the tongue as easily as "unicorns" and "bubble gum." Listen as they tell their stories. Hold their hands. Be kind with their hearts. And hug them every single time.

Encourage help. Learn about the resources in your area so that you can help friends and loved ones in need. Don't be afraid to check in over and over again. Don't be afraid to convey your concern. One human connection can make a big difference in the life of someone struggling with mental illness and/or survivor's guilt.

30,000 people commit suicide in the United States each year. 750,000 people attempt suicide. It's time to raise awareness, increase empathy and kindness, and bring those numbers down.

It's time to talk about suicide and depression.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

<![CDATA[Calling all Parents of Small Children!]]>Tue, 08 Jul 2014 21:08:00 GMThttp://familytherapyinwestchester.com/blog/calling-all-parents-of-small-childrenPicture

Sometimes they whine.
Sometimes they don't obey.

Sometimes they hit their sister.
Or brother.  Or both.

Sometimes they complain.

Sometimes they are really mean and say they hate you.
Or other things that hurt.

Parenting can be really uphill.
Especially when kids are small, and, if you have more than one.

My kids are big now.  It's much easier.
Know that.  It does get easier.
They turned out pretty cool.
I'm grateful.

I read an article today by a top nanny named Emma Jenner that I wish I had read when my kids were small. 

I think you might find it a good read today.  Every parent I know wants to do a good job parenting.  Reading this might help make that easier.

Here it is:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/emma-jenner/modern-day-parenting-in-c_b_5552527.html

If you want some parent coaching to get things back on track, I'd welcome your call for a consultation.  914.874.1064.

<![CDATA[Phone Alert]]>Tue, 22 Apr 2014 15:27:52 GMThttp://familytherapyinwestchester.com/blog/phone-alertI get these "Emergency Alert" on my phone every now and then.  Usually it is weather related, things like, "flood warning" or "high wind alert."  
NPR (National Public Radio) just aired a report on cell phone use that I think falls into the category of an "Emergency Alert" for everyone who spends time with children, especially parents.  Since I don't have an "in" with the powers who send out cellphone alerts, here's my best try at widely broadcasting this important ALERT!

Here's the article by Patti Neighmond from April 21, 2014 on NPR:

It's not just kids who are overdoing screen time. Parents are often just as guilty of spending too much time checking smartphones and e-mail — and the consequences for their children can be troubling.

Dr. Jenny Radesky is a pediatrician specializing in child development. When she worked at a clinic in a high-tech savvy Seattle neighborhood, Radesky started noticing how often parents ignored their kids in favor of a mobile device. She remembers a mother placing her phone in the stroller between herself and the baby. "The baby was making faces and smiling at the mom," Radesky says, "and the mom wasn't picking up any of it; she was just watching a YouTube video."

All Tech ConsideredWhen Parents Are The Ones Too Distracted By Devices
Radesky was so concerned she decided to study the behavior. After relocating to Boston Medical Center, she and two other researchers spent one summer observing 55 different groups of parents and young children eating at fast food restaurants. Many of the caregivers pulled out a mobile device right away, she says. "They looked at it, scrolled on it and typed for most of the meal, only putting it down intermittently."

This was not a scientific study, Radesky is quick to point out. It was more like anthropological observation, complete with detailed field notes. Forty of the 55 parents used a mobile device during the meal, and many, she says, were more absorbed in the device than in the kids.

Radesky says that's a big mistake, because face-to-face interactions are the primary way children learn. "They learn language, they learn about their own emotions, they learn how to regulate them," she says. "They learn by watching us how to have a conversation, how to read other people's facial expressions. And if that's not happening, children are missing out on important development milestones."

And, perhaps not surprisingly, when Radesky looked at the patterns in what she and the other researchers observed, she found that kids with parents who were most absorbed in their devices were more likely to act out, in an effort to get their parents' attention. She recalls one group of three boys and their father: The father was on his cellphone, and the boys were singing a song repetitively and acting silly. When the boys got too loud, the father looked up from his phone and shouted at them to stop. But that only made the boys sing louder and act sillier.

Psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair wrote a book about parenting, called The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age. She sees lots of parents, teens and younger kids in her clinical practice in Massachusetts. The father's reaction to his three silly boys might be expected, she says, because "when you're texting or answering email, the part of your brain that is engaged is the 'to do' part, where there's also a sense of urgency to get the task accomplished, a sense of time pressure. So we're much more irritable when interrupted."

Shots - Health NewsParenting In The Age Of Apps: Is That iPad Help Or Harm?
And when parents focus on their digital world first — ahead of their children — there can be deep emotional consequences for the child, Steiner-Adair says. "We are behaving in ways that certainly tell children they don't matter, they're not interesting to us, they're not as compelling as anybody, anything, any ping that may interrupt our time with them," she says.

In research for her book, Steiner-Adair interviewed 1,000 children between the ages of 4 and 18, asking them about their parents' use of mobile devices. The language that came up over and over and over again, she says, was "sad, mad, angry and lonely." One 4-year-old called his dad's smartphone a "stupid phone." Others recalled joyfully throwing their parent's phone into the toilet, putting it in the oven or hiding it. There was one girl who said, "I feel like I'm just boring. I'm boring my dad because he will take any text, any call, anytime — even on the ski lift!"

Steiner-Adair says we don't know exactly how much these mini moments of disconnect between a parent and child affect the child in the long term. But based on the stories she hears, she suggests that parents think twice before picking up a mobile device when they're with their kids.