by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghDecember 28, 2017 co-parenting, counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, divorce, educational, marriage counseling, meditation, mental health, parenting, psychology, psychotherapy, therapist, therapists, therapy, Uncategorized, wellness0 comments
Our licensed professional counselors are here for the community offering evidence-based therapy, marriage counseling, family counseling, child therapy, art therapy, premarital counseling, all by top rated clinicians. Our team of therapists has over 150 years of experience between us, we offer therapy to heal from Depression, Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and our Couples Therapists can treat a full range of relationship issues from conflict communication, to intimacy enhancement, and parenting concerns. In all of our centers, we also provide a menu of comprehensive wellness services. We offer wellness support including health treatment options from our certified nutritionist, kinesiologist, clinical herbalist who specialize in offering the people of The Greater Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania communities providing wellness solutions for mind, body, and spirit. Be well with us!
Contact us at our Pittsburgh location 830 Western Avenue Pittsburgh Pa, 15233 Our Pittsburgh center is located in the northshore of the downtown Pittsburgh. Therapy near Northside, Southside, Brighton heights, Lawrenceville, Shadyside, Bloomfield, Strip District, and Mt. Washington. Our hours are from 7-am-8 pm Monday through Sunday. We accept UPMC, Highmark, Blue Cross Blue Shield, United, Magellan, Aetna, and Comp Psych as well as Out of Network, Self Pay, and Sliding Scale options.
For a therapist near you – Call us at 412-322-2129Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghDecember 28, 2017 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, educational, marriage counseling, psychology, therapist, therapy, Uncategorized, wellness0 comments
Counseling in Monroeville at Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh our therapists are trained in a variety of specialties including Marriage and Family Therapists, Child Therapy, and Certified Nutritionist, Kinesiologist, Clinical Herbalist, and Meditation Instructor are proud to be Monroeville’s only Integrative Counseling Center. Our Counseling team include top-rated therapists with decades of experience in Mental Health and Marriage or Couples Counseling in Monroeville.
Our therapists serve Western Pennsylvania and our Counseling Center East is near you in Monroeville, Murrysville, Penn Hills, Plum, New Kensington, and Westmoreland County. We provide compassionate and scientifically validated therapy solutions specifically available for your emotional health and wellness. Our counselors treat individuals who are suffering from a broad range of mental health concerns such as anxiety, anger management, depression, chronic mental health diagnoses, trauma, bipolar disorder, late stage alcohol and substance abuse recovery, intimacy, life transitions, managing the emotional effects of a medical diagnosis, grief counseling, stress disorders, stress management, obsessive compulsive disorder, mood disorders, personality disorders, compassion fatigue, parenting, life balancing, postpartum depression and many more. Our child therapists help children who are dealing with bullying, trauma, grief, behavioral, and attentional disorders. The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh has therapists with specialties in all ages and stages of development.
Some of the commonly treated disorders which can be helped by our Couples Therapy specialists are intimacy, communication, conflict, infidelity, parenting and co-parenting, as well as premarital counseling. Family counseling is also an option and our therapists have worked with families of all types and sizes including parent child, adult children and parents, step families, siblings, and grandparents.
As an integrative counseling center we utilize many approaches and offer solutions for emotional, relational, and physical health in our centers. Our counselors use cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, humanistic, psycho-dynamic, and emotionally focused techniques as well art therapy for kids. We also have a wellness team to provide natural solutions to enhance well-being including herbalism, meditation, and nutrition counseling. In other instances we are glad to collaborate with psychiatrists and psychologists to provide continuity of care for those clients who hold psychiatric diagnoses. Please refer to our providers individual bio’s for a more comprehensive explanation of their professional styles, training, and educational backgrounds.
We accept many insurance companies including UPMC, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, United, Aetna, and Cigna. Additionally and for your convenience we also accept HSA, credit and debit card for self paying clients. We staff therapists who care and who do offer the sliding scale so that all clients can access the mental health coverage that they need.
We do offer distance solutions at all of our centers and can provide counseling using Skype.
If you have a question about whether we have a counselor to treat your specific concerns and emotional needs, please send an email and we will be glad to let you know or answer any other specific questions or inquiries.
Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh is conveniently located at 2539 Monroeville Blvd, Monroeville, PA, 15146. We are in a freestanding building with a large parking lot attached to our center.
Call us at 412-856-WELL or 412-856-9355
Sunday 7am-9pmLearn More
by Stephanie McCrackenDecember 31, 2014 counseling, mindfulness, new year 2015, personal growth, psychotherapy, resolutions, Uncategorized, wisdom0 comments
A New Year and A Blank Canvas
The infamous ball is approaching its apex, soon the confetti shall spill to the ground, the party music will envelops the night air, albeit briefly as the quiet is coming. Soon, our little nor’easter earth will become silent and still as the snow falls steadfastly ensuring the depths of our winter’s hibernation. Beneath all of this obligatory stillness our mind churns even if just dimly, yes, the mind does indeed churn, the powerhouse creating the thoughts convections which form and sustain our deliberate and unconscious motions in life. One of the greatest quests upon which we can embark is to live more deliberately, with greater awareness, to make conscious all of our human and unacknowledged motivations. How then can we honor our assumed attempts towards personal growth, these questions which are beckoned by the transition into yet another year? In exaltation of the grand pillar of knowingness which indicates another hallmark, we welcome you mindfully 2015.
Alas it is a 2015 and another succession of 365 tomorrows slumped forward and splayed out before us like a pristine canvas, acrylics atop the easel, how will we render our reality? Choose mindfully my friend, as you shift through the boxes of so many colors, which do you want to set the tone of your work? Our life is indeed the greatest act of deliberate creation which we can make and despite some utterances of powerlessness; we all preserve the power to choose how it is that we will respond to life’s grievances and successes, this is my solemn promise to you. So allow us to attune to the process of creation and examine the “how” it is that we paint our picture? This may be referred to as our personal style. What is the feeling which courses through your limbs as you reach for the brush and walk nearer the canvas? Is your heart beating in rapid succession, is your breathing sharp? Is there a sense of nervousness that you will make a blunder? If so that’s ok, there is still a choice in that, how do you respond to anxiety, do you allow fear to limit action? Perhaps you isolate from terror or embarrassment of your own emotional state, you sulk away or head back to the couch and put the blanket over your head, oh my friend, come on, come on back! While we have only one canvas, one year, time is our merciless provocateur, lest not we waste it all in perpetual forced solitude. Perhaps with some semblance of bravery you persevere, you fretfully and shakily reach for the paint, place a dollop upon the tray and allow your vision to take hold? Perhaps you grip the brush stiffly, pressing so forcefully into the canvas that miserly scrapings of paint are all that remains from your terrified attempt, yet when looking back you see that simply by loosening up just a bit, you could have rendered a fairly realistic still life of a sole granny smith apple, waxen gleam, atop your chosen ensemble of a purposefully barren cornucopia. Perhaps that is not like you at all, maybe you are characteristically bold, often finding yourself leaping first and thinking later. Perhaps you reach for the brush and feel brazen in your novice maneuvers, you haplessly secure the broad stroke brush and feverishly create only realizing when looking back that the form is sloppy and the colors have all bled together? Perhaps you are best maneuvering for more of an impressionistic feat, you can still make out the form of all of the people passing down the street that you relentlessly studied, in critiquing your work you imagine that you would like to render them with greater depth. Oh, our dear canvases abounded with stylistic features, the plentitude of variability towards the characteristics which allow us to create our world. What is your style, upon what could you hope to improve? What are your greatest regrets through the year? Perhaps you are like some of us and you wield your abundant energy to paint gloriously, for you it is an act of love and you would like all of the world to be an act of esteemed and exalted love,
fervor will thrust one far yet it is also easy to be burst into a perilous direction when making rapid and frenetic motions with ones paint brush. Yet this is the way you have always created your life’s work, still change can come when we concentrate our efforts and maybe this year something different is in order. When recalling the masterpieces and artistic disasters which your brush has bequeathed, on some days a dribble here and imperfection there, in which frame do you store your most treasured accolades. Perhaps it is the era of sketching out a design and landscape before putting brush to canvas, or perhaps for you it is moving beyond the sketch and working through the fears of actually committing to wielding motion to propel the brush. Some small motion towards growth, always it is intention and mindfulness that hold the key to most every great work, these are the skills which compel talent and desire. Happy New Year! Cheers to creating in the dazzling array of hues, in natural and free flowing form while still making space for artistic imperfections.
Happy New Year!
Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
by Stephanie McCrackenJune 9, 2014 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, psychology, Uncategorized0 comments
For any of you who have felt yourself a part of a relationship which was dizzying in its highs and staggering in its lows, no matter how brief or long, your head very well may be feeling woozy in recalling the rapidity of its pace. While there are indeed many personality types and pathologies which can lead themselves to destructive cycles in the interpersonal domain, we will today briefly explore Borderline Personality Disorder and what this kind of encounter may mean for someone who is attempting to heal and recover in its wake. Much literature has focused on the trait of borderline personality disorder as it relates to women yet in recent years clinicians have noted that there may be a growing number of males who meet the diagnostic criteria for the disorder.
While there are many typologies of the borderline character structure there will undoubtedly be an intensity to the initial meeting phase. For a woman meeting a borderline male it’s likely that she will be dazzled and showered with heaps of attention and affection, “at last a male who seems to thrive upon open emotional discourse”. Despite all of those enchanting words and the promise of the sort of intimate encounter that one has been eagerly waiting for, the Borderline male or female will inevitably change as soon as he or she detects that you have been won over. What was once Casanova like attention and praise will become brooding and coldness, likely even implacable possessiveness. The conundrums lies within the fact that the more closely one moves to the center of a borderline person’s inner constitution the more resistance that one will note. The borderline has a hallmark knack for stirring up fights and dramatic interplays which make them feel more alive, the function of the heated angst is to shield against the emptiness of their true center. A borderline likely has suffered some trauma or abuse in early childhood and the sustainment of true emotional intimacy is a most insurmountable task for this person. If this cursory note sounds like someone you or a loved one now or eventually it will be important to seek professional help and be careful. If you are in the process of leaving someone with Borderline Personality Disorder (or any other domestic abuser) this is the most dangerous time. The Borderline Personality will not respect or note boundaries or have any qualms about stalking or seeking to ruin a victim’s life. Their key note is abandonment and the game stakes have just begun increased for the borderline when a friend, lover, or casual acquaintance is attempting to diverge on life’s path. This often recreates a point of abandonment, abuse or neglect that the borderline had experienced in early childhood. The borderlines inability to come to terms with healthy boundaries and no means no mentality makes them a typical recipient of restraining orders and PFA’s.
Yet many people who are in a relationship with a person suffering from Borderline Personality disorder may not recognize the issue until months or even years into it, this is true even for intelligent and successful people who maintain such vivid memory of the courtship or fall victim to the Borderlines intense need to recouple after falling apart. If you were or are in relationship with a person who exhibits Borderline personality traits or a full blown disorder there is a chance that you too have had some trauma in your childhood or adulthood which puts you at risk to accept this kind of attachment. It can be significantly challenging to see the signs of the disorder as the Borderline is very skilled at using something clinicians call “Gaslighting,” for instance when this person goes into one of their episodic fight picking modes they will literally leave their victim with the feeling that it was their fault, they may cause a friend or partner physical, emotional, spiritual harm yet they will always leave their victim believing that they are to blame or even deny that anything even happened. The Borderline also may exhibit martyr like tendencies, spewing to all who will listen of how much they love their victim and how much they have suffered for their love, they can even make bystanders believe that the victim is the crazy one during their epic and frequent altercations. If you recognize yourself in either part of this description you may want to seek the help and advice of a psychotherapist or other mental health professional.
While diagnosing Borderline Personality Disorder is the domain of a psychological professional who has been trained to administer measures and tests, here is the DSM IV-TR criteria for achieving the diagnosis.
A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts as indicated by 5 or more of the following.
1) Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
2) A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
3) Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
4) Impulsivity in at least two areas that could potentially be self-damaging. (Spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating.)
5) Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior.
6) Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g. intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually only lasting a few hours and rarely more than a few days.)
7) Chronic feelings of emptiness.
8) Inappropriate and intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)
9) Transient stress related paranoid ideation or sever disassociate symptoms.
Keep in mind all of you singletons or those recovering from a whopping dating fiasco, that if something doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t, if someone is moving too fast for your comfort then there may be something underlying all of that intensity and there is never any case in life which should permit a healthy person from recognizing that within life, love, and conversation, no means no just as well as yes means yes. J
In good health and love,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Offering Psychotherapy and Marriage Counseling
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Avenue Pittsburgh Pa 15233
by Stephanie McCrackenJune 3, 2014 counseling, couples counseling, marriage counseling, Uncategorized0 comments
Dishes and Dustpans, Couples Therapy in the 21st Century
Sweeping, chopping, dusting, mopping. It sure does take an obscene number of passes with the Swiffer to maintain gleamingly clean floors, not to mention streak free stainless steel and mirrored surfaces! Churning out all of that elbow grease but to be honest, how much time does one have left to maintain a vague notion of assembly on the home front? Considerations become compounded when we note that most families utilize some form of a two person income. Divide that amongst X number of young ones and suddenly you are welcome to an insurmountable heap of work and the typical affair of most Middle American families, in case you haven’t already encountered this nuance of cohabitation, division of household duties is an increasingly common source of marital strife. I assure you that more squabbles are provoked by who does the majority of toiling and bills than issues such as extra marital affairs or other relationship traumas. Division of labor is the kind of long standing issue which if not properly mediated, can and will chip away at the bond.
Lately have you been noticing that you’re feeling like some frazzled version of Cinderella or a haggard snow white minus all of those helpful dwarfs? Maybe your mate is beginning to remind you of that slovenly beast or some other godless tyrannical archetype? While such fairy tales speak to the deepest reaches of our consciousness because they are relatable, however when your life and relationship is out of balance these polarized versions of identity may feel even more relatable. Relationship erosion occurs with each member of the relationship becoming polarized on opposing ends of the spectrum.
When it comes to domestic chores in many homes there may be the expectation that the female gender take care of the cleaning and cooking. Superficially, perhaps even the woman herself having watched her mother and grandmother sew and cook and care for the sick and in her eagerness to live up to these ideals she goes beyond her own capacity gritting her teeth, smiling yet feels suffocated by the weight of responsibly. Growing children or not, piling heaps of dishes in the sink, those near and dear not quick to offer help in distributing an equality to household work, in homes such as this the sentiment for the domestic caretakers may be over worked and undervalued. Or perhaps you are a part of a family where both lovers do chip in and do their fair share of dishes and laundry it may not be without some ambivalence. For instance one gentleman who I know is easily able to incur the expenses of weekly made service in the family home, yet felt intensely confused about whether this was as ok as his wife was a stay at home mom, he was left wondering if this detracted from her worth as a caretaker. Still others who performing manual labor by their own toil, may wonder “Should I do these kinds of chores?” “I didn’t do them as a child and my mother is infuriated by my wife’s suggestion that I should lift a finger to pick up a mop or wipe a countertop!” The wealthy, the just scraping by, and indeed same sex marriages must contend with the distribution of household labors, gay and lesbian couples assign the role of which partner will do which tasks when it comes to cleaning, cooking, tending the yard, mending the broken cabinet handle and on and on. The problem comes into effect when the opportunity for productive conversations is not taken and one of the partners is unwelcomingly thrown into role of caretaking for all of the home, the mounting efforts may be taken for granted and the laboring partner feels that their values are not noted or received with gratitude.
Still another curveball is when inevitable change occurs, perhaps one of the spouses enters the workforce and is suddenly less willing to maintain the same level of responsibility which will be a time of renegotiating terms within the home. The opportunity is within the risk, these are all such productive considerations for the ever evolving family unit. As a psychotherapist however even when it comes to such tangible responsibilities the issue is seldom the issue, quaking under the veneer of dishes and dustpans are vast and bold themes of division of power, respect, communication, and even the unwelcome embodiment of bold archetypes, like some matronly version of Cinderella.
There is no one sized response which will or abolish these issues for the marriage or couple, the welcomed news is that by duly and mindfully approaching such sensitive topics more fair and logical distribution of domestic duties can be achieved. Even more importantly, a growing understanding of the self and opportunity to redefine the relationship is possible but only when taking the risk to assess both your and your partner’s deepest intimate selves. If you are too often gauging that mounting resentment within yourself for the unnoticed or barely noticed efforts which dominate your to-do list each day, perhaps feeling that familiar sensation of sadness or frustration maybe it’s time to try something different such as Couples Psychotherapy or Marriage Counseling.
In good health,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Offering Psychotherapy and Marriage Counseling
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Avenue Pittsburgh Pa 15233
by Stephanie McCrackenMarch 24, 2014 counseling, mindfulness, personal growth, psychology, psychotherapy, Uncategorized0 comments
At long last spring is finally before us, warming sun beams serve as a reminder that winters darkness is ebbing, unfolding to a new time of the year. Before we can finish with a blink of an eye the landscape will be blushing a cool green, the growth of all that only a month ago, was cloaked in hardened winter, a stern remembrance of the branches and twigs formerly befallen with the chilled stagnation of ice and snow. Even the icebergs which were suffocating the rivers and ponds eternal flow have graciously thawed just as do our hearts, mind, beingness—that is if we remain afloat in the process of growing. With springs return we may feel lighter, more content, responding to greater amounts sunlight and warmth, with each day we move further from the Vernal Equinox our knowingness is assured, spring is here. Motivation energizes the spirit which wants to follow the pristine example of the landscape by becoming something even greater, brighter, and more beautiful, on the inside. Some of us create grand plans to dig out our dust pans and mops, rearrange the furniture, switch out our fall and winter wardrobe for the pastels of the season, go all out and do a round of spring cleaning. Like our mothers or fathers and their grandparents before them making use of this special transition to arrange our world into a cleaner and more comfortable environment in preparation for springs blossoming. Perhaps you turn to the instructional mechanisms of Feng shui or some other method to order your environment. Yet the outside, well that has always been the easiest part to wield ones growing sense of mastery, if you really want to challenge your springs cleaning efforts this year, you may want to assess the mechanisms which sustain your internal world by utilizing psychotherapy. All of those thoughts, emotions turned behaviors, reaching their roots as far back as you can recall into the very earliest memories that thought can conjure. I beg you to ask, in what areas do you aim to grow this spring?
This winter has beckoned me to consider the effects of ferocity and holding on far too long. What are some things which you are holding within, exuding to the external? Is there a pattern which you use to shape your interactions with others, can you see it, are you ready to examine this tender area or is it still more safe and familiar to linger in blaming and projections of fears and anxiety? Is there a relationship which you should fix or let go in order to best serve your growth? If you’re imaging that the answer is “yes” then consider a step further, what lessons does this negative interaction hold for you and about you? When you scrape the dust from the long ago blurry mirror and examine your very own image, perhaps you notice a stark face returning your gaze, but what do you really see my friend? Who hides in your shadows?
The earth makes its revolution, revolving 1 time in every 24 hours, our planet is ever in orbit, a seasonal change impending, we feel it, and we must consider how should we change too? Nature is an insistent instructor forever whispering her lessons of change. It is very sad to see those who are ever seeking to remain the same, not recognizing the stages and changes in life, in a solemn and straight trajectory they insist that yesterday should indicate the forecast for tomorrow—yet the best leaders and most well adapted humans accept and thrive through change, allowing it to shape and mold their actions and using it as fuel for their becoming. Ones best course of action through time of change is to examine and then create ones intentions, a typical effort within counseling and therapy. Allow change to unfold by clearing out mental and physical space for spring’s shiny new growth to blossom. Use your mental broom to push stagnant thoughts and behaviors back into the muddy earth and replace them with those which sustain the tender budding life, the new growth, both within and without. Bloom Bright and Blossom Beauty!
In Loving Encouragement,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Avenue Pittsburgh Pa
15233 Suite 100
by Stephanie McCrackenMarch 19, 2014 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, sexuality, Uncategorized0 comments
As a psychotherapist who offers marriage counseling, affairs and their aftermath are sometimes ironed out amidst my office couch. Both parts of the couple struggle to make sense of the betrayal and its costs, they often seek a professional to find the answers to questions such as; should we stay together, should we separate, will our relationship ever be “normal,” (whatever version that may be for you), again. For both of the lovers there are painful truths to identify, the person who was cheating must come to terms with his or her guilt and the person who was victimized by the cheating may wonder if it is acceptable to forgive or if this somehow means that they are weak or foolish. While the answers to all of the many questions are highly complex, completely personal, and entirely up to you, if the affair has been ended and both lovers actively choose to stay there are abundant ways that you will both be able to enjoy the effects of an enhanced love bond! Here are some of the reasons why your love can rebound from an affair and be even closer and more intimate than before, provided that you both are willing and able to put in the time and work to make some big changes through the healing process.
- The affair itself is a symptom of a greater and deeper underlying problem. That problem could be anything from one of the partners acting upon impulses from narcissism, entitlement, and or sex addiction, or that there are some deficits in the relational component. For example, when the relationship is stuck in a pattern of withholding, and or criticism, when it is lacking in warmth, passion, communication and sometimes this causes one of the parties to conclude that she or he should look outside of the commitment to fill certain interpersonal needs. The affair must be understood as a symptom but also, if it addressed successfully, within every problem is an opportunity for the solution to be uncovered. Now you are free to explore the solution to the underlying issue.
- The time after the affair has been disclosed or discovered will be hallmarked by raw and real interaction, this kind of communication facilitates rebuilding. Obviously there will be a serious mourning phase caused by shattered trust and therefor many questions about who, what, when, where, and why. You both must be honest about what exactly is transpiring during this time. As the anguish ebbs allow the new to emerge. This honest and direct communication will feel refreshing as most often during an affair the communication had been stifled, the newfound open honesty will feel refreshing and serve as a great reminder to understand all of the ways that each partner was turning away from true intimate interaction previously.
- Your relationship will never be the same again and that very well could be a good thing considering the path to the affair is likely paved by anguish and deceit. Like a home that is being rebuilt there will be new walls and windows for the relationship, walls between the person who was conducting the affair and the man or woman who was facilitating the cheating, as well as shiny and new windows of transparency between the love partners. The windows should be framed in the light of honesty, openness, you may even want to place a chair nearby for reflective time, and renovations take time, work, and are not for the faint of heart!
To close and to be repetitive, the person who was having the affair must be completely honest and know that trust may not be given immediately or for a very long time to come. A message for the person who suffered the betrayal- recognize that you are healing within the cycle of grief. From anguish, anger, disbelief and all the way around you must place your long term intentions upon your healing and forgiveness for the cheating spouse. Keep your eyes on the prize however as if it is in your will, you both will eventually move beyond this troubling time and into a better relationship which will someday be capable of casting meaning upon this day when you are suffering the effect of the human misgivings of betrayal.
Sharing in happiness and love,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Avenue Pittsburgh
Pa 15233 Suite 100
by Stephanie McCrackenMarch 4, 2014 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, Uncategorized0 comments
Some incredible orator stated “Two broken wings won’t fly.” A healthy relationship or marriage is explicitly the product of the intentional and harmonious blending of two actualized psyches. True love and true life require wholeness and awareness. Self-help, self-talk, self-betterment, are all words of our time and just about everyone seems to be on the journey of self and relational growth, yet when it comes to the loves process we may be wondering what the notion of wholeness means. This may be particularly relevant when tracing the route through past relationships and recognizing that there is some naggingly similar quality to those in the rearview. Similarly, you may be married or in a relationship and wondering why you notice a certain je ne cest quoi ebbing into ether, placing you onto the familiar path of conflict speckled by a pervading sense of loneliness. Perhaps you are unattached but when your gaze falls upon the rearview you see lovers left to the wayside like mile markers off of the highway. All in all, its a fine moment to reflect upon wholeness. Not that the act of loving requires any encouragement to unfold, there is an powerful drive or instinct to experiencing love. The manner in which humans repeatedly attempt and often fail to sustain love is evidence of the intensity of this instinct, wanting to share our lives within the context of a meaningful and rich romantic bond. The heartfelt sensations which are a product of engaging in loves virtues and risks are certainly the most ebullient, ecstatic, soothing, and dually frustrating and disappointing! To love is a process by which the culmination of all of these sensations is inevitable, to love is a spiritual and complete act, yet it is also a specific skill set. If you sincerely believe that you have worked towards the mindset which embodies your best current version of you then you may be prepared to enter into a dance of this ancient and sacred heart song.
Step it on out of yourself! A loving relationship requires that we step out of ourselves to meet the needs of our beloved. Loving is most certainly not all about you! To love we must see beyond our own sore spots and insecurities to be present, empathetic, and understanding to the emotional, physical, and spiritual parts of those who are loving. This is no small feat, given the myriad of questions and concerns which arise as a part of a loving relationship or marriage. Often we will need to reflect upon our entire selfhood in relation to another and assess those things which the relationship, like a mirror, may show to us, this is at times startling to a psyche both well developed and those egos which may be in the midst of crumbling.
Love Song Birds Being whole requires attunement to the abundant social cues which are promenaded upon the faces of our fellow humans. Many people are perfectly competent to sustain friendships but when entering the unique atmosphere of romance our sore spots become stimulated by our mate’s. Our lover with their wants and needs and the intimate fact that to understand and accept, this is love in action. Why these sore spots? Remembering our first example of how to give and receive love and attention began as early as infancy. Messages internalized by the way that our mother or primary caretaker mirrored our expressions and responded to our cries, setting up and ever solidifying the evolving pattern of our being within the world. When your lover comes to you to say that she or he has had a terrible day, in that moment do you respond with equal concern and inquisitiveness? Do you launch into problem solving mode, speaking at length about how you can relate? Do you immediately become frustrated that you are stuck in dealing with their feelings or do you feel bad about yourself because you can’t fix it all for your love? So many highly personal responses to one elegantly poised prompt. Most often and simply when a lover comes to us in distress they are only seeking the opportunity to be heard and understood. In the very powerful act of giving that distraction free moment or ten we are filling our lover with the hypnotic sound of our loving song.
A touch of authenticity– It takes courage to be authentic especially with the person we love, it can be frightening to imagine their perceived judgment and fear. Psychological theorist Fritz Perl’s states that psychological distress stems from the proportion that a person lives inauthentically. All of those moments that you squash your verbal impulse to stay with the crowd or forgo offending your lover’s sensitivities certainly take an undeniable toll! Agree to attend the theater or the football game even though you loath it? Or perhaps you lie by omission in order to avoid a conflict? No matter the justification, being inauthentic stink the rot of decay. As Perls would say, you are being “phony” and it incurs a psychological cost, while it’s certainly important to make social trades and compromise its best to enjoy relationships which do not tax your dislikes too often and also make room for us to be authentic in representing our likes, values etc. Being phony runs the risk fanning the flames of eating the fiery venom resentment or making one into an inauthentic drone. One should also examine the part of his or her self which would continually betray one’s own essence for another person’s approval. Simultaneously if you are actually in a relationship with one who would sincerely limit or judge your solo activities then there may be even more questions which you could explore. In life and love must choose and act wisely. “Keep it real” express, fears, taboo, passions, with astonishing honesty and gusto.
Express Vulnerabilities – Love requires that we examine ourselves, own our emotional baggage and then we must feel safe to lay it upon the feet of our beloved, trusting that he or she will respond with tenderness and empathetic care. This can be a mountainous task for those who keep the pain of early or recent betrayals, trauma, heartbreak, or even for those who have never enjoyed the luxury of an open environment which lavished empathy and compassion upon pains. Lovers who were initially able to bask in the trusting atmosphere of a mutually nurturing atmosphere will still sometimes notice things falling off the tracks and wrecking into a place where less productive interpersonal patterns evolve. In this damaged place the expression of vulnerabilities becomes forbidden and is often replaced by defensiveness. This being said it is by allowing our lover into the areas of tenderness and softness that we develop trust and warmth the compassionate comfort which can only be produced by lovers who have navigated through many storms and basked through many summer suns together.
How can you apply these basics to your own love, if you are saying that you can’t really apply any of this they I would imagine that you may not be completely honest with yourself. The act of loving is one which is ever co-evolving and no matter how well or not so well we are doing it, there are ways which we can improve it.
In love and kindness,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Offering Psychotherapy and Relationship Counseling
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Ave Pittsburgh Pa 15233Learn More
by Stephanie McCrackenFebruary 13, 2014 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, psychotherapy, sexuality, Uncategorized0 comments
It’s Valentine’s Day, the time of year when romance and affection become central to our hearts and minds. What better way for you and your loved one to mutually celebrate your bond than with warm and flush cheeks, rapidly beating heart, and maybe even a dose of perspiration. Aphrodisiacs promise to invoke all of these responses and much more. Aphrodisiacs have long been revered for their power to make men stand a bit taller and women’s blood to rush with desire. The term seems to have come from ancient Greece and their Goddess “Aphrodite” the goddess of love. The fascination with desire invoking serums and tinctures did not end with the Greeks, time seems to have inflamed our human impulse to create that symposium of flavors which will invoke our less easily satiable appetites. For any of us in a long term loving union, single, or dating, Valentine’s Day is a most spell inducing context to permit ones appetite to be beckoned towards gluttony. Please remember that the magically seductive properties of the following aphrodisiacs will be dually heightened if shared within a loving atmosphere spellbound by the flicker of candle light, melodiously chattering conversation, and maybe even the wafting sweet aroma of flowers.
Truffles-The truffle has remained one of the most sought after delicacies throughout time, it is earthy and woody with a delicate pungency which is sure to inflame each and every one of the senses. The white truffles is even more esteemed than the black and either way if you want to be certain that your lover erects gratitude, deliver a touch of this refined flavor. They are an excellent accompaniment to dress upon most any meat or vegetable. The process by which the mushrooms are discovered is equally fascinating as they are excavated by pigs which are ever attracted to the pheromones the mushrooms emit. Pheromones may also contribute to the Truffles aphrodisiac qualities as they contain the same chemicals which are found within human sweat, which believe it or not is lust enhancing chemical.
Garlic– There is indeed something mystical about this potent and “stinking onion”. Modern days prize it for its anti-microbial functions, high antioxidant content, and gourmands revere its bold taste. Garlic contains the active compound Allicin, this has the alchemical property of increasing blood flow which is sure to heighten lust. This aphrodisiac is best enjoyed by pairs of two lest you want your lover to be repelled much like the mythical vampires which it purportedly scatters to the distant winds.
Oils-From cold pressed organic extra virgin olive oil to the myriad of nut oils there are so many uses and pleasures to be associated with each. Any lover whose impulse towards tasty pleasures is so misaligned to express derision for the fat yielding content of the oils while not undressing its delicate flavors and propensity towards viscosity should remain far from the prep station. By lavishly soaking your finest cut of meat or vegetables in a seasoned concoction of oil, the dish will be rendered ready for the sizzling heat of a sear or sauté while still retaining its internal moisture! I personally assure you that most any food which bursts with moisture has aphrodisiac qualities.
Honey-The creation of laborious effort by tiny bees, buzzing about from flower to flower, fertilizing as they zip through the air, anything born of fertilization certainly qualifies as an aphrodisiac. Ever wonder why newlyweds go on a honeymoon? Historically they were given a jug of mead upon their departure, mead is a drink made from sensual enhancing fermented honey. Cleopatra is said to have used honey in the art of seduction by sharing it with her lovers amidst her erotic regions. If you haven’t found enough reasons to get yourself a large vat of honey, you can also note that honey is bursting with boron which is a metabolite of estrogen a hormone playing a role in arousal for both men and women.
Oysters– There is indeed something lurid and suggestive about the shape of the oyster, Casanova is purported to have consumed more than 50 of these pearl producing gems every day through his life. The salty and sea water infused flesh is teeming with zinc which aids in the production of testosterone, strong hormonal balance certainly heightens the arousal phase of any steamy interlude.
Dark Chocolate– Esteemed as a nectar of the gods and at one time reserved for only the royalty. In fact, Montezuma made a daily ritual of consuming a hot cocoa which was infused with chili peppers which are known to invoke their own power over the appetites of lust. Simultaneously, we offer chocolates to loved ones during most every holiday as tryptophan activates our brains pleasure centers. Of course, any quality chocolate the sensual properties are further exacerbated with the accompaniment of pleasant company, laughter and perhaps even a glass of wine.
Enjoy the Aphrodisiacs friends, fans, and lovers and always remember that the greatest lust enhancing potion is that which is enjoyed from the sultry warmth of a healthy and loving relationship!
Love and warmth,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Offering Psychotherapy and Marriage Counseling
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Avenue
Pittsburgh Pa 15233
by Stephanie McCrackenFebruary 4, 2014 couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, personal growth, psychotherapy, Uncategorized0 comments
Why Searching for a Soul Mate is Damning to Love
Soul mates, the stuff of fantasies, dreams come true, love at first sight and also quite likely among the reasons you may find yourself hurling towards disappointment when encountering real life love! A soul mate is a notion born from Christianity, the story is simple; at one time all souls frolicked in their natural and divine state of male female merger, we were celestial and reflecting wholeness. Then our souls were ripped apart and cast down to the earth leaving us with a longing which can only be subsided by the reunion of ourselves with our one “other half”. An interesting fact is that the western world nations practicing Christianity and love marriages suffer from exorbitantly high divorce rates compared to nations which may have practiced arranged marriages where the emphasis becomes working towards harmony.
A soul mate unintentionally dismisses the actual and expansive realities of true love by instead distracting a would-be lover with damaging beliefs such as “love at first sight.” In the soul mate version of love, emptiness and longing are the implications of living without ones eternal mate and the only remedy appears as the divine salve upon having found ones soul mate. When pirouetting from life’s various stages, including romantic encounters one may easily fall susceptible to the guise that wholeness has been reached, sustaining the faulty belief that the soul has become whole in those first throes of ecstatic merger. I assure you that any relationship which is built upon the understanding that perfection will be reached by the merging of two halfs, falsely acting upon the understanding that wholeness is only sustained by consolidating two empty jars; any such union will erode and suffer from disappointment and ensuing bitter resentment among a host of other maladies. Do not despair for this is no argument against love, this is a cautionary semblance meant to yield the reader towards a more mature and viable assembly of the hearts potential melodic chord!
I do not want to execute your love but I do want to help you to develop realistic expectations for romance and loving feelings. Love is not a magical act whereby to opposites attract or two fateful spirits find their missing piece. The act of loving is a skill set, to love is a verb implying that there is some action, exertion of effort, a labor of love indeed. Thus far we have established that love takes work and love requires two whole parts. A loving union offers many challenges but its rewards are tenfold. How does one find the harmonious chord when bringing together two humans with their own unique set of wants, needs, values, manners of loving and being? The answer is carefully, mindfully, and with intention.
Ways to move beyond the notion of soul mate and develop strong and healthy relationships
Approach from wholeness Feeling sad, lonely, inadequate? These are not places from which a healthy relationship can be born, a “soul mate” meant to complete your empty parts is a set up for failure. Equally for all of the white knights and Florence Nightingales, it may somehow speak to your fractured psyche to purchase a fixer upper but saving someone else or teaching them art of living skills will inevitably be dehumanizing and resentment building for both parties. The best we can ever do is to hone our own self-worth, know our ever evolving abilities and work to create some confidence in them so that we can enjoy sharing those attributes with others who can extend the very same!
Love takes work One must be willing to exert effort in the creation of a smooth and solid relationship. This will require you to leave behind the infantile suggestion of perfect mergers manifested by the divine, the stuff of this world requires honing interpersonal skills, speaking and being authentically, embodying compassion, trust, care, believe, compromise, caress, challenge. The list could go on forever indeed but I am sure most of you are already aware of that!
Know thy self, Socrates may have been the first to mention, the unexamined life is not worth living! Get to know yourself and develop a strong loving relationship with you! If you are hiding a ton of shame or uncertainties about the car you drive, your job, your interests and you want to create a relationship with someone able to “show you the way” then I assure you that even if you do meet a potential love match you will be starting the relationship off on shaky ground. Have respect for your unique being and as you become better equipped to share your presence authentically you will be far more likely to create similar relationships, the kind based on mutual likes, passions, values, and respect.
Don’t expect too much but never settle Sometimes settling may mean allowing the relationship or the self to fall into deterioration during the course of long term togetherness. Nurturing love requires one to constantly grow, maintain physical, emotional, spiritual growth. That which remains stagnant and rigid is bound to break but that which eternally renews shall remain strong and vital like the river flowing.
Forget about finding the perfect fairy tale lover, evolve into the best “YOU” Often in relationships men and women tirelessly search for that other who will allow the harmony and happiness to flow into their life. Yet beyond creating love based upon compatible personality, values, and interests that which prohibits the loving union is often to be found within our very own selves. As Rumi so profoundly proffers “Seek not for love but to remove all of the barriers within oneself which prevent it.”
I leave you with this contemplation, what part of you can be removed so that you my friends and readers are best able to share a love?
With a warm heart and lots of love,
Stephanie M McCracken MSPC
Reviving Minds Therapy
Offering Psychotherapy and Marriage Counseling