In Marriage: Shut Up and Listen!

When couples come in to see me they are told from the onset that marriage therapy isn’t about replaying the greatest hits of arguments past and present. For them to go from yelling at each other behind closed doors to yelling at each other in my office is not therapeutic. It’s just another episode of Jersey Shore.

So there are a few simple rules for couples in my office. No yelling, no cursing (this one gets broken a lot, even by me, but it’s still a good rule), nothing abusive and no interrupting.

Except as the couples counselor I do get to interrupt and I will use my power! It’s kind of like being the basketball coach with the whistle or the director of a play. I can stop the action to point out when the couple is in a bad feedback loop going nowhere, redirect, provide motivation and give them a chance to try out their new skills. Or when things are going well I will stop them to be sure they take note of that too.

But usually, interrupting is not a good thing. When we break into another person’s speech WE ARE NOT LISTENING! Obvious, right? And yet we do it all the time.

Check this out! We can actually interrupt without saying anything out loud! We do it by not paying attention to what the person talking to us is saying. Worse, like Mr. Guinon said, we use the time we should be listening to compose how we are going to respond instead.


10 Steps to Lower Anxiety & Become Empowered!

Brain Anatomy Amygdala Hippocampus

1.  Knowledge is power. To tame anxiety the more you know about how your brain works the better.  So here’s a little neuro-psychology lesson.

What you need to know is that the older part of our brains, the inner bit in the middle, is called the limbic system. Within that is the amygdala.  For our purposes it’s enough to know that scientists believe that everything we need to keep ourselves, and our species, alive originates here. That means drives like the drive to eat, appetite, to have sex, procreate, and fear, to keep us vigilant of danger.

Our frontal lobes are in the newest part of the brain, the neo-cortex. Our ability to judge, to filter out right from wrong, to determine appropriate from inappropriate behavior, real vs. unreal, reasonable vs. unreasonable resides here. It’s the part that keeps us civilized and steady, among other things.

Behavioral scientists theorize that when we are threatened we respond on a primitive, non-thinking level first, because survival is more important than being right or wrong. The amygdala sends the signal that ‘there’s a nasty threat out there!’ to the adrenal glands. Adrenalin is released into the blood, kicking off the autonomic nervous system response, revving up the entire body to either run away, flight, or duke it out, fight, with whatever is about to kill us.

Anxiety occurs when this system goes into overdrive because there is no where for the body to run and nothing for it to fight. The threat is abstract. What’s firing off the system are scary ideas, not a saber-toothed tiger. All that adrenalin and no quick way to metabolize it causes anxiety.

Medical and non-medical treatments for anxiety are all about keeping the amygdala from running amuck and the frontal lobes engaged.

2.  Know the Bad News:  The bad news is if you have been dealing with anxiety for a long time and you have a family history of people who have anxiety [or depression], chances are you will be dealing with anxiety in some way for the rest of your life.

3.  Know the Good News:  Anxiety is very treatable.  Once you have good treatment that empowers you and you learn skills to manage the anxiety, (and keep your frontal lobes engaged) it can never hurt you so much, ever again. Really!

4.  Immediate relief may be as easy as learning to breathe deeply, getting enough good quality sleep, cutting out alcohol and caffeine for a while, and starting an exercise regime. Many patients have reported that just making these healthy changes reduced their anxiety significantly.


Blues or Depression? 8 Ways To Tell

380747916_5cdc54b030My senior year of college my Dad suggested I go to a therapist. He thought it might help me find some direction. During a hard college career that was interrupted by chronic illness, I changed majors three times, and still wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. So I thought what the heck, I’d give therapy a go.

After a few sessions, Dr. Greenbaum said I was depressed. Well blow me down! I wasn’t sad or crying all the time. How did he figure I was depressed?

He explained that you don’t have to feel sad to be depressed. Sometimes being depressed meant the stark, cold absence of happiness, feeling ‘flat’ or ‘empty’. There is a condition called dysthymia that is a sneaky form of depression. Not as imminently dangerous as major depression, dysthymia lasts longer, two years or more, is as serious and sometimes even more debilitating than major depression.

Eight potential signs (lasting longer than two weeks) of any kind of depression are:

  1. Feeling helpless, hopeless, stuck, “What’s the point?”
  2. Loss of interest in activities that were once pleasurable
  3. Appetite or weight changes
  4. Sleep changes. Insomnia or sleeping all the time
  5. Agitation or feeling slowed down
  6. Loss of energy, fatigue, easily exhausted
  7. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  8. Concentration problems, indecisiveness, lack of focus

Dr. Greenbaum taught me that being diagnosed with a chronic illness hit me harder than I wanted to admit, even to myself. He helped me get my head out of the sand and start living again. You might consider finding a good therapist for yourself.

More on: The symptoms of depression and types of depression

and How to Find a Good Therapist

Photo courtesy of Ozan Ozan

Teen Girls! Join this Group & Feel the Power!


Editor’s note: This article was contributed by Kate Maleski, LCSW and EWN psychotherapist. Here, in her first EWN blog post, she announces the formation of a much needed support group for adolescent girls.


Do you ever find yourself thinking… I’m not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, talented enough? Sometimes the biggest challenge in life is just being you. It’s hard to know who “I am” with everything and everyone constantly getting in the way.

I know that I often think to myself “I am the only one who feels this way.” Trust me, you are not the only one. It’s nice to see that others feel the same way you do. That’s why I am so thrilled to announce that in October I am introducing in Buffalo a group that I loved to lead in Cleveland . This group is designed to help adolescent girls feel empowered and learn to feel good about “ME”!

Ok…let’s talk about what you’ll get out of group.

1. “Who am I”? It may sound like an easy question but if you really think about it I bet it’s taking longer to answer than you thought. Maybe you are still asking yourself “Well, what do you mean?” It’s important to think about who you are and not focus on how others view you.

2. Really tough stuff. Gossip, friends, boys, bullying, clicks, fitting in, peer pressure, clothes, body image, school, imperfections, family. This is all a part of life and can be EXTREMELY overwhelming. Let’s talk about it and break it down so we can cope with this tough stuff together!

3. Overcoming negative thinking. Have you ever found yourself thinking “Nobody understands me! I always get picked last! I know she doesn’t like me! I will never feel better!” Those are some pretty tough thoughts that would make ANYONE feel bad. Changing your thinking can change your mood.

4. “Where do I go from here?” That’s easy….UP! Group allows you to be yourself in a safe environment where you will learn that you are not alone! You will learn ways to COPE with stressful events and thoughts and you will make some pretty great friends!

And remember most of all…

“It’s not your job to like me…  It’s MINE!” –Byron Katie

I’m Kate Maleski, LCSW. Questions? Give me a call at 716.880.5689 or email me at and we’ll set up time to chat about group and other stuff that could help you feel less alone.

Photo courtesy The Hamster Factor via Flickr

A Lesson in Intimacy from Stephen King


There was a moment during the interview when one of the King children was talking about a book, and Stephen turned toward his wife and took her hand. He grasped it, tightly, and they both closed their eyes and leaned in toward each other, as if in prayer. Later, when asked about that moment, Stephen could not remember what inspired that moment — maybe nothing at all. “Sometimes I just take her hand,” he said. “We’ve always been close, Tab and me. I love her.”

via The New York Times Magazine Stephen King’s Family Business

The Reward of Just Sitting Still

DSC00661My friend Amy Jo Lauber has the most gentle way of inspiring a person.

My summer morning ritual includes taking a walk around the neighborhood. I love moving through the cool early morning air, greeting other early birds out with their dogs or just stretching their legs. After reading her post, Sharing Our Gifts, Passing the Baton and the Link to Abundance, Amy Jo’s ritual sounded so sweet I decided to try it this morning. After my usual walk I took the time to sit down on my patio with my coffee. And was rewarded.

I was sitting very still, breathing, waiting for the Universe to whisper her wisdom to me when a hummingbird flew up. He stared at me for a milli-second and then flew over to my hummingbird feeder, hovered there, sipped up nectar and flew off from where it came.

Doesn’t sound like much but let me explain. I’ve been waiting all summer for the hummingbirds to find my feeder. I’ve researched how to attract them, tried different formula’s of nectar, different feeders and locations for the feeder. The hummingbirds alluded me.

So this little guy appearing like that out of the stillness of the morning made my heart leap with joy! That is reward enough. Perhaps there’s another message from the Universe in this gift. Something about patience, the wisdom of sitting still in a busy, busy world, if you build it they will come… I don’t know. I’ll have to think about that.

For now I thank Amy Jo for sharing her abundance!

To learn about what a hummingbird symbolizes click here. 

Looking for a Good Therapist? Kate Maleski Joins Explore What’s Next!


Editor’s Note: I am proud to introduce you to Kate Maleski, the latest psychotherapist to join the Explore What’s Next team. Kate, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, describes her ideal client like this: “She’s an adolescent between 11 and 16 years old who is convinced she is not smart enough, pretty enough, talented enough or heard enough. She is someone who most people would see and say ‘Wow! She has it all!’ when in reality she feels empty and alone inside.” Kate works equally well with adults and couples in need of support and guidance. Hear more about Kate in her own words…


Do you ever feel alone or that you are the only one to feel this way? There is no reason for you to suffer. Everyone experiences troubles in their life and I want to help you! My passion is in understanding where you are today and guiding you to where you want to be next.

My name is Kate Keating Maleski and I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Recently I moved back to my hometown in Buffalo where I am excited to continue my career in helping individuals, couples and families. Before that, I worked in Cleveland, where I completed my B.A. at John Carroll University and my Masters Degree in Social Work from Case Western Reserve University.

For the last eight years I have worked with survivors of sexual, physical and emotional abuse, people recovering from neglect and domestic violence, individuals experiencing grief or betrayal, anyone who has experienced events that have lead them to feel hopeless.

You may be angry, sad, confused, indifferent, or just “numb.” You may even believe that you will never feel safe and happy again.

But you can and you will. Whatever you bring to me we can work together to find the right solution for you.

I have extensive training, and have supervised clinicians, using a strength based approach and cognitive behavioral therapy. With these therapeutic skills I counsel individuals to cope with anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, grief, cutting, abuse and trauma to help them feel whole again. I also provide therapy to couples and families that have trouble communicating where there is a lack of trust. In addition, it has been my pleasure to lead groups for adolescents who have been bullied and/or suffer from low self-esteem, who have those feelings of “I just don’t belong.”

If you are looking for a safe, empathic, non-judgmental place to heal and to explore what’s next I invite you to call me today.

You may call me at 716.880.5689 or email at and we’ll schedule your initial consultation!

Looking for a good therapist? Meet Nicole Newcomb


Editor’s Note: Explore What’s Next continues to grow! As Director I couldn’t be more pleased and proud. In the next few days you will meet the wonderful therapists who make up the Explore What’s Next team. First please meet Nicole. Her recent posts about happiness and mindfulness are quite popular. I can’t wait to hear more from her.


“Life is always moving. Sometimes we fall behind the pace and it can be stressful to catch back up. It’s been my experience that, if you have the right tools, you can get back on track and stay there. But that’s not always easy. Anxiety and depression can be barriers to a happy, healthy life.” ~Nicole Newcomb

As a Mental Health Counselor, LMHC-PCASAC-T, I specialize in cognitive behavioral and mindfulness therapy. I love working with families, adolescents and young adults who are having trouble navigating life transitions. Individuals may be recovering from the pains in life such as past trauma, family strife and could use some support becoming an independent adult. With a background in substance use counseling I have experience helping people with the recovery process. These days this is not an easy path and can lead to understandable anxieties.

Everyone is recovering from something and could benefit from the support of therapy. As a mental health counselor, I see the prevalence of anxiety and depression and it appears to be ever growing. It can be overwhelming with the increasing pressures of obtaining a college degree, the fast pace of life, the economy and balancing being your own person and figuring out who you want to be for the rest of you life.

With knowledge in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness Therapy, I can help you to better cope with life stressors, regain your life balance and move ahead with confidence! If you or someone you know could use some guidance and support when it comes to figuring out what’s next for you,

Give me a call at 716.440.5627, find me on Facebook, or email me at to schedule your initial consultation!

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