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Are You Worth It? You Decide.

April 18th, 2011 by Dr. Ilona L. Tobin

As comedienne Lucille Ball quipped: “You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” Part of that self-love is feeling that you’re “worth it”—that you are good enough, and that you deserve respect, indness, and satisfaction with your life. Although this seems simple enough, unworthiness is more common in our culture than we might expect.

Simply put, “worthiness” is a person’s judgment of their own value, merit, or usefulness. It stems from our deep human need to be known and seen for who we really are and what we have to give. In healthy amounts, it’s the sentiment most clearly expressed in the words of author and poet Maya Angelou: “I’m not perfect, but I’m pretty good.”

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Ilona Tobin has been a psychologist and a marriage and family therapist for more than 25 years in Birmingham, Michigan. For more information, please visit her listing on the Therapist Directory.

Living With Grief: How to Survive a Significant Loss

March 18th, 2011 by Dr. Ilona L. Tobin

One of the hardest things we’ll ever experience is the loss of someone—or something—dear to us. Grieving is a normal and natural response to this loss. While death is one of the most common losses, grief also comes with other big and small life changes, such as a serious illness, the end of a relationship, the loss of a job, relocating to an unfamiliar city, or other lifestyle changes.

Even if you aren’t currently grieving, it can be beneficial to think about the grief process. At its core, grief is a part of the experience of being alive…and human. And while grief isn’t pleasant, it can give us insight, compassion and strength that we wouldn’t otherwise have found.

Here are some ways to access those greater qualities, survive a significant loss or help someone experiencing grief.
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Ilona Tobin has been a psychologist and a marriage and family therapist for more than 25 years in Birmingham, Michigan. For more information, please visit her listing on the Therapist Directory.

Don’t Be Alarmed

February 18th, 2011 by Rick Hanson, Ph.D.

Why?

The nervous system has been evolving for about 600 million years. During all this time, creatures – worms, crabs, lizards, rats, monkeys, hominids, humans – that were real mellow, watching the sunlight on the leaves, getting all Zen, absorbed in inner peace . . . CHOMP got eaten because they didn’t notice the shadow overhead or crackle of twigs nearby.

The ones that survived to pass on their genes were nervous, fidgety, vigilant, paranoid – and we are their great-, great-grandchildren, bred to be afraid, quick to feel unsettled in any situation that seems the least bit threatening: traffic speeding up, not enough time to get through your emails, a snippy comment from a relative, more news of a struggling economy, a strange new ache in your back, no call after two days from someone you’ve started dating, and so on.
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Dr. Hanson is a neuropsychologist in San Rafael, California. His practice includes adults, couples, families, and children, as well as psychological assessments of children and adults related to temperament, school performance, and educational and vocational planning. For more information, please visit his listing on the Therapist Directory

Addictive Eating: Are You Powerless Over Food?

February 18th, 2011 by Dr. Ilona L. Tobin

The holidays of winter often bring to mind the image of a full table—and a full stomach. We gather with friends and family and feast merrily on pies and potatoes, turkey and ham and all of the fixings that many of us dearly enjoy.

There is another side to that pretty picture, however.

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Ilona Tobin has been a psychologist and a marriage and family therapist for more than 25 years in Birmingham, Michigan. For more information, please visit her listing on the Therapist Directory.

10 Things to Change in 2011

February 18th, 2011 by Dr. Ilona L. Tobin

The turning of a year turns our thoughts to how we might improve upon the year that’s receding. Here are 10 suggestions for things to change in 2011.
<ol>
 <li>Fear of making a mistake. Face it, you will. Do your best and no one can fault you.</li>
 <li>Jumping to conclusions. Think situations through before rendering judgment. Consider whether you know all of the facts.</li>
 <li>Trying to please everyone. It’s just not possible, and the effort usually makes YOU displeased.</li>
<!–more–>
 <li>Thinking you’re always right. Opening to other points of view can be a liberating experience.</li>
 <li>Putting yourself down. Modesty may be a virtue, but self-denigration does nothing but harm.</li>
 <li>Overly focusing on the negative. You don’t have to be Pollyanna, but don’t miss the good things in your life.</li>
 <li>Regret. Learn the lessons of the past, and then let your regrets go. Nothing is served by dwelling on them.</li>
 <li>Comparing yourself to others. This is a destructive game you can never win. Refuse to engage in it.</li>
 <li>Despair. No matter how unfortunate your circumstances, it is possible to improve them. Seek help and support.</li>
 <li>Fear of aging. Medical advances, exercise, good nutrition and community raise our life expectancy and well-being. Embrace those elements and enjoy your longer life.</li>
</ol>

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Ilona Tobin has been a psychologist and a marriage and family therapist for more than 25 years in Birmingham, Michigan. For more information, please visit her listing on the Therapist Directory.

Shared Meaning

January 11th, 2011 by Mel Schwartz, LCSW

We take for granted that our words convey exactly what we intend them to. This is a particularly misinformed assumption. I have observed that upon deeper scrutiny, the words, let alone the concepts, tend not to be received in the way the messenger anticipates. By the time a few sentences have passed, we may have a totally missed communication. How often does we pause and considerately ask the other what they mean by the word they are using?

Although this problem is more glaring in confrontational discourse, it impacts amicable conversations as well. “You don’t know how to be intimate,” she exclaims. He retorts, “I don’t know how to be intimate? You’re so angry and cold who would ever want to be intimate with you?” In the following minutes this couple is off to the races, pushing buttons and hurling invective.

They are arguing around this word intimate. Yet, no one has bothered to share or inquire what the word intimate suggests. She might be referring to emotional intimacy, he might be thinking of sexual intimacy. This is a common disconnect. Yet the problem runs deeper. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are fighting about whether he can or cannot be emotionally intimate. Have they ever discussed the concept of emotional intimacy and reached a shared meaning? This would be most unlikely. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mel Schwartz is a psychotherapist with offices in Westport Ct and NYC. For more information, please visit his listing on the Therapist Directory or his website. This article may not be reprinted, reproduced, or retransmitted in whole or in part without the express written consent of the author.

Coming into Balance

December 27th, 2010 by Mel Schwartz, LCSW

A few summers ago I broke my foot, the fracture occurring as I missed a step on my front porch. The break occurred on the outside part of my foot- the fifth metatarsal. My doctor provided some good news in that I wouldn’t need a cast and I proceeded to adjust to my broken foot. Or so I thought. In deference to the pain on the outer perimeter of my foot I shifted my weight toward my other side, compensating for the break.

By the following week I had developed a new and more painful problem. I had stressed the unbroken part of my foot by placing an excessive amount of pressure on it. I actually experienced more acute pain in that area than in the break itself. A month later the broken bone had essentially healed–but the damage I caused to the inner part of my foot still lingered. This is an issue of compensation. I had come out of balance, quite literally. And nowhere does this tendency provoke more havoc than in our emotional and psychological lives.
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Mel Schwartz is a psychotherapist with offices in Westport Ct and NYC. For more information, please visit his listing on the Therapist Directory or his website. This article may not be reprinted, reproduced, or retransmitted in whole or in part without the express written consent of the author.

Recovering from Debt Addiction

December 20th, 2010 by Dr. Ilona L. Tobin

(Excerpt from Fall Newsletter 2010)

John has a well-paying job, but carries a debt load equal to half his salary. He spends compulsively, buying things he doesn’t really need. Because he also doesn’t keep track of his finances, he frequently bounces checks. John would like to get control of his spending, but hasn’t been able to rein himself in.

Sarah never spends money unless she has to and neglects self-care such as dental check-ups. She is self-employed but doesn’t make enough to cover her basic expenses and uses credit cards to pay bills when she falls short. Her debt load is a great worry to her, but she feels helpless to change the situation.

John is a compulsive debtor and Sarah an underearner, but their core problem is the same. According to Jerrold Mundis, author of How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt and Live Prosperously, repeated debt results from dysfunctional or distorted subconscious attitudes and perceptions about money and self.
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Ilona Tobin has been a psychologist and a marriage and family therapist for more than 25 years in Birmingham, Michigan. For more information, please visit her listing on the Therapist Directory.

The Empty Nest: What Happens When the Chicks Fly

November 20th, 2010 by Dr. Ilona L. Tobin

From the second they arrive on the planet, just inches long and utterly dependent, our children occupy a place in our hearts deeper than most any other relationship.

We nurture, guide, feed and protect them for years. The relationship brings us a complex mixture of joy, frustration, sadness, delight, anger, pride and love. Our children occupy our focus like nothing else, as they grow taller and more independent with every year. And then they go away.

Of course, we knew that from the beginning. And that’s been the goal all along.
But that doesn’t make an empty nest any easier when it finally comes.
Fortunately, an empty nest is also the beginning of another era for parents, one that can be equally fulfilling.
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Ilona Tobin has been a psychologist and a marriage and family therapist for more than 25 years in Birmingham, Michigan. For more information, please visit her listing on the Therapist Directory.

Top 3 Enemies of Depression

November 9th, 2010 by Dr. Ilona L. Tobin

(Excerpt from Fall Newsletter 2010)

In addition to talk therapy, there are powerful yet simple things that you can do to help yourself heal from depression.

Inspired by Dr. Robert Hedaya’s book on dealing with the side effects of medication, The Anti-Depressant Survival Program, here are three ways to combat depression, whether you’re on anti-depressants or not.

1. Good Nutrition. A diet rich in protein, low on the glycemic scale (e.g., barley, grapefruit and yogurt) and high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and good fats, like omega 3s, will help stabilize your mood. Protein is essential for the production of neurotransmitters that regulate mood, and foods low on the glycemic scale help stabilize your blood sugar, reducing fatigue, unhealthy weight gain and mood swings.

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Ilona Tobin has been a psychologist and a marriage and family therapist for more than 25 years in Birmingham, Michigan. For more information, please visit her listing on the Therapist Directory.