Friday, December 31, 2010

Why Do Couples Divorce and What Are The Predictors?

Threats of divorce are often attempts to fix the relationship.  Many times we want the pain within the relationship to die, but not the relationship.   Often times, when divorce is mentioned, each of the individuals in the relationship were young and never achieved individuation from their own families of origin before they were married.  In this case, their identities became shaped by the demands, actions and needs of their partner.  Divorce becomes a highly frightening thought because they have never been on their own and have no idea who they really are as individuals. 

The highest rate of divorce typically happens during the first two years of marriage when couples are in the process of trying out the marriage.  There are many reasons for the endings of these marriages.  Frequently, they are based in the impulsiveness of getting married to feel the rush and not thinking through its commitments and expectations.  Once the romance wears off, so does the desire to remain married.

Marital problems also begin to arise at the seventh year of marriage, after the first child arrives and when the first child turns 14 years old.  Children are a major stressor to marriages.  Often, people will chose to have children to “save” a marriage.  Then, it turns out that the addition of children actually put more stress on the relationship.  This may be one of the reasons that childless couples past the seven-year mark have lower rates of divorce that couples with children.

Two other trouble points are when the marriage is at the 20-year mark and the 40-year mark.  At 20 years, couples are facing the children leaving the nest.  Now, the couple has to re-establish a relationship with each other without the daily interaction and distraction of the children.  They are faced with more intimate interaction with each other, and may have the urge to fulfill desires that were suppressed during the time of raising children.  Conflict can arise if those desires are seen as a threat to the relationship. 

If they had used the children in the past as a way of regulating intimacy or creating distance, they will now have to face each other without that regulating force.  If the couple does not have clear roads of communication, or if they cannot express their feelings, this spells disaster for the relationship.

At the 40-year mark, couples are looking for companionship as they move into old age.  Surprisingly, there are a high number of divorces at this point.  Couples can arrive at this point and discover that they don’t feel companionship with each other.  One may have been at the service of the other the entire time.  They raised the children, they indulged the desires of the other, and they kept things together and basically kept the relationship together through their own sacrifice.  Now, they are tired of sacrificing themselves.  As they approach the sunset years, they want to live in peace or create a space for themselves that they never experienced earlier in their life.  If their spouse is not willing or able to accommodate them on this request, there is a good chance that they will look towards divorce as a way of attaining the space they need. 

Another point where divorce all too frequently, and unfortunately, occurs is when the wife of a couple falls ill. This is especially true for wives with a terminal illness such as cancer.  Men show a higher occurrence of divorcing their stricken wives than women divorcing a stricken husband.  One need look no further than senator John McCain or senator John Edwards to make the case in point.  Both of these high profile men left their wives after the discovery of their illnesses. 

Interestingly enough, an affair does not necessarily spell the end of a marriage in divorce.  In many cases, an affair draws attention to discord and trouble in a marriage and with the right assistance and intervention they may go onto a closer more solid relationship.

There are several predictors for a divorce.  In good relationships, there are approximately seven positive exchanges for every negative exchange.  Relationships that are in trouble have only one positive exchange for every negative exchange.  How a couple speaks to each other is another predictor.  Do you regularly speak harshly with each other?  If so, that can be another indicator.  Criticism, contempt, defensiveness and the silent treatment are all indicators of a troubled relationship.  All of these occurring together are a sure sign of trouble.

For more information on Dr. Jim's self-help audios with free samples, log onto  For more information on Dr. Jim, and to obtain free audio affirmations, log onto his website at LAtherapist.comYou can check out his page on Facebook at Healing a Broken Heart. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Therapist as Shaman

Shamanism appears to be the earliest form of healing that we are aware of to date.  It has existed throughout the world from Russia to Australia, from China to the Americas.  Although there is no one explanation as to how shamanism spread throughout the world, the two that are most popular today is that either shamanism began in Siberia and spread, or that it sprang up spontaneously throughout the world.  There are common aspects of shamanism found throughout the world.  They are findings of teeth, bones, feathers, bird feet, helmets with streamers, skirts with skins, mirrors, crystals, horns, drums, antlers, and statues with toungs that allow researchers to determine whether shamanism existed within a particular society.
            The shaman believes that evil spirits cause illness for the body.  They believe that they can create magic with their words and ritual actions that can drive the evil spirits from the body.  To do this, they must first protect themselves from these spirits, then enter into an altered state of consciousness characterized by a state of ecstasy.  They believe they are able to visit three worlds of reality:  The Under World that represents terror and power, The Middle World in which they see the spirits of this world among us, and The Upper World that is the world of deities.  When Someone claims that they are able to perceive those three worlds, they are having a shamanistic experience. 
                What distinguishes a shaman from a professional priest or healer, is that he is a part-time practitioner.  The training passes down individually from teacher to student.  There are no large schools which train people to become a shaman.  There are two principal ways for a person to become a shaman.  The first way is to be born into a shaman lineage and follow in the footsteps of the ancestors.  The second, and most common way, is to experience a calling for the position.  A calling is perceived by a series of events recognized by the tribe and the individual.  Such events involve:  separation, communication with other beings, ecstatic experiences, a sense they are going to be a shaman and the seeking out of a shaman to train with.
            Psychotherapists can learn much from the shaman.  The Shaman represents a multi-dimensional view of reality.  He believes that reality is a creation of the unconscious.  As therapists, we too would do well to learn how to embrace a multi-dimensional view of reality.  By understanding that there is a conscious and unconscious, as well as the different levels of the unconscious:  the world unconscious, personal unconscious, and collective unconscious, we may gain a better insight into the issues of our clients.  I have often seen a client's material world appear to match his/her personal outlook on life.  By understanding this process, which the shaman seems to know so well, we may be able to help our clients pull themselves out of undesirable real world experiences. 
            The shaman expands what is and what can be through their and their clients' belief in magic.  There are times when therapists encounter patients who are only able to see the world through a lens of black and white.  Often, a client may feel that there is no way he will ever be able to change his life.  By assisting our clients to view the possibilities of change as the shaman does with his clients, we may be able to help the client break the chains of status quo that binds him to the old and possibly self-destructive ways.
            The shaman acknowledges that she is not the one who is creating the change for the client.  She is aware that it is a greater force that she can not control, but only influence.  We too, must recognize that we are not able to change the client, but can only influence him/her with new out looks and ideas.  It is up to the client to accept what is given to her and use it in her life.  As therapists, we have no control over the client's unconscious mind.  This is a great force over which we have no control.  We may be able to assist with some influence, but we must always be as cognizant, as the shaman, that we cannot control it.
                 The shaman lives in the real world.  She holds employment outside the shaministic activities.  She does not allow her activities as a shaman to fill her with false pride, or allow her to look down on others with a sense of being superior.  It might be easy for some psychotherapists to become filled with a sense of self-importance as they watch their clients improving.  These therapists could easily become arrogant and loose touch with empathy for the client.  The shaman never forgets that she is a human being and is not above or below the client, but is able to stay in touch with the humanness of herself and the client's.  The Shaman works together with the client, as does a psychotherapist.  The shaman does not blame herself if a cure does not come forth.  The same should hold true for a therapist.  If a therapist believes too strongly that she alone is responsible for change in her clients' lives, then she may be setting him or herself up for over-involvement in a client's life and lose her objectivity.
            The shaman also protects himself before practicing his trade.  So should a therapist.  Often therapists neglect to protect themselves from a client's emotional and mental states.  Depression and anxiety are two especially contagious emotions.  There are times when a therapist comes home from the office, only to find that he is experiencing similar emotions of the client, or they just feel especially drained from a particular patient.  Shamans do not feel drained from their work.  They do not take on any of the emotional states of the client.  Shamans enjoy their work.  As therapists, we too need to protect ourselves so we may continue to enjoy our work and recognize the boundary between ourselves and our work, and ourselves and our clients.
            As part-item healers, shamans are able to keep their egos separate from the work.  Professional therapists have a difficult time keeping their egos out of their work.  The part time status of the shaman allows them to deal with the real world.  This is the world from where their clients come.  It also allows them to perceive themselves as a part of the society and an understanding of the people for whom they perform their work. 
               Therapists would do well to work part time, or at least have outside hobbies and activities that involve them out side of their careers.  By doing so, their chances of defining themselves by their careers and losing perspective life would diminish greatly.  They would then be able to maintain and enhance themselves as useful assistants to their clients.
            Both shaman and therapists provide their clients with a conceptual framework with which to work.  The clients of both come to them often with chaotic and vague distress.  Shamans explain to their clients why the client is having the experience, and what they can expect of an outcome.  Just knowing these simple "answers" can help a client begin a healing process.  As therapists, we too can assist our clients in understanding why something is going on for them and what they can expect.  It will help them to conceptualize their distress and give them hope that maybe something can relieve their discomfort.  This arouses a hope for cure.  Without a hope for cure, the client will probably not want to bother with working on their issues. 
            In order to arouse this hope for a cure the shaman creates an air of authority through the belief that she is in touch with powerful forces and fosters the belief that she will struggle with the client against the forces that cause her malaise.  As psychotherapists, we create our authority through our education and licenses.  Knowledge and experience may be viewed as powerful forces that psychotherapists are in touch with.  If psychotherapists take an approach similar to the shaman's with their clients, by fostering the belief that they will struggle with the client for change, then maybe that would encourage a closer relationship with the client allowing for depth work to take place.
            The shaman elicits vivid emotions in the client.  From the shaman's point of view, these emotions are very helpful in the healing process.  We can learn from the shaman to remember the important aspect of assisting our clients in experiencing emotions.  Psychotherapists assist their clients by leading them into the pain and exploring it.  As psychotherapists, we understand the importance of allowing our clients to experience their emotions.
             The work of the shaman should serve as a teaching guide to psychotherapists.  The shaman reminds us that the work of the mind is as much as an art as a science.  It is the art of our work that keeps us in touch with the client.  It is the art that sparks our creativity and puts us in touch with our humanity.  Like the shaman, we experience a calling that draws us to this profession from somewhere deep in our souls, beyond our physical world at the point where we are aware of our connection to all that exists.  If we take nothing else from the shaman, let us take his wisdom that we interconnect with all that exists; and we must work within its laws.  Science gives us the tools and knowledge; but art, the art of the shaman, gives us the creativity and understanding to use those tools in a way that can benefit mankind to the depths of his soul.

For more information on Dr. Jim's self-help audios with free samples, log onto  For more information on Dr. Jim, and to obtain free audio affirmations, log onto his website at

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Overcome Old Behaviors Around Food

Many of the issues we have around food began in our childhoods.  Old family rules around food and eating can appear in our lives long after we have left home.  They are unconsciously programmed deep into our subconscious.   They show up during times of stress or when we are distracted.  As a result, we find ourselves repeating old behaviors around food that we have struggled with our entire lives, or we find ourselves repeating old behaviors that we thought we had dispensed with long ago. 

What were the rules around eating in your childhood?  Was it important that you finish your entire plate?  Many of us came from households that had very specific rituals and rules around eating and dining.  Some of these rules were helpful like washing your hands before eating.  Others were not, like requiring all the food to be eaten on your plate.  Whatever the case, we carry with us those early lessons around eating. 

It would be helpful for you to take a few moments and write down all the different rules around eating that you experienced growing up in your family.  Make a note of those that were helpful and those that were not. 

Now, take an inventory of those unhelpful behaviors that you continue to practice today.  More likely than not, you do those behaviors unconsciously and may have never thought to question them.  Behaviors such as finishing everything on your plate before eating any desert or if you take a piece of cake you must eat the entire piece and not just the frosting part that you like. 

I’m now asking you to question those old beliefs and learned behaviors.  Make a list of the one’s that are not helpful.  Were your parents over weight?  If so, what were their beliefs about their weight?  Did they hold negative feelings towards themselves?  Did they hold negative feelings towards people of average size?  Do any of those old beliefs affect you today?  Take an inventory and write these and others you come up with down on paper. 

Write down an action plan to address each one.  Then, imagine what it would be like if you no longer did those counter productive behavior around your eating experience.  Also write down what it would be like if you no longer thought those negative thoughts around eating.

For more information on losing weight, and to listen to free samples of Dr. Walton’s award-winning album, named “Best Album of the Year” at the JPF International Music Award,” log onto “Dr. Walton's Ultimate Weight Loss.” For more information on Dr. Walton, log onto Press Release

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

You Can Find the Motivation to Lose Weight

Losing weight is not about hating the body you have right now.  It is about appreciating and loving that very body.  Within its own physical limitations, this body has been a wonderful and loving servant of your will. 

Your body is the point through which you experience all of your thoughts and feelings, all of your physical sensations and perceptions of the world around you.  Your body is the point through which you experience the entire reality of your life.  It is the one thing that you’ll always have with you from birth until the end of your life.  It deserves your love no matter what condition it is in at this given time. 

Your body is not your enemy; it is not working against you.  The body does not act independently from your treatment of it.  Your body only responds to the way you treat it.  It reflects the care that you give it.  If you feed it foods that cause it to gain weight, it will respond by gaining weight.  If you exercise it within reason, it will become more efficient and toned.  It is a loving servant of your will within its individual limitations. 

How you treat your body affects your health - which affects how you feel about yourself and that affects your perceptions of the world around you.  It is so important to keep it fit and healthy through appropriate exercise and eating habits in order for it to help you experience life to its fullest. 

Losing weight and becoming more fit can be done for no one else but for yourself.  Those members of your family and friends who have been urging you to lose weight love you and have your best interest at heart, but their urging alone is not enough if you are to succeed.  If you are not motivated on your own and are only bending to their demands, then you’ll only end up resenting those people who love you and sabotaging your efforts at losing weight. 

To succeed at losing weight, you must realize that you are the one in control of your decisions and life.  Losing weight is a process rather than an event.  As with all processes, the movement forward is built upon a foundation of successes and setbacks.  Our setbacks can be as valuable as our successes and are opportunities for learning more about ourselves and our desires.  Learning from our setbacks allows us to move closer to the success we desire.

It takes determination to lose weight.  Unhealthy eating habits and lifestyles are not easy to overcome.  It is both a physical and emotional sacrifice you must make when it comes to achieving your desired weight goals.  The result of a sacrifice is to make something sacred.  When you change your eating habits and adopt a healthy exercise program, you perform a sacrifice that symbolizes to yourself, and those around you, that your health and quality of life are sacred to you. 

In some Native American tribes, it was called upon for young men and women to make a sacrifice to achieve recognition of adulthood.  Often, that sacrifice involved a ritual of scaring the body.  The sacrifice you may endure on your journey to achieving your desired weight can be as meaningful to your psyche as any scar left upon the body and deserves to be honored and respected. 

A scar represents pain and injury; it also represents a capacity to heal and grow beyond what has been.  Scar material is always stronger than what existed before. 

You may have begun over eating as a response to medicating yourself from a painful emotional experience.  Food became a way of pacifying bad feelings.  Eating is a comforting and soothing experience that takes us back to younger days when we were children and a loving parent soothed our feelings with food. 

By choosing to lose weight at this time, you have chosen a sacrifice that symbolically moves you beyond the immaturity of your youth.  It may be viewed as a rite of passage into adulthood. 

For a sacrifice to have meaning, it must be a personal choice made by you alone.  True sacrifice is not an imprisonment, but rather, it is the ultimate expression of your free will and that is to be honored and revered.

For more information on losing weight, and to listen to free samples of Dr. Walton’s award-winning album, named “Best Album of the Year” at the JPF International Music Award,” log onto “Dr. Walton's Ultimate Weight Loss.” For more information on Dr. Walton, log onto Press Release