The perception of reality is subjective.  This awareness is vital to my thinking. If you think about the subjectivity of perception you will realize the incredible pros and cons that are implied. It is amazing that people have been able to communicate well enough through their subjective, individual perceptions to get everything done that has been done in the world. It is an important implication for teamwork, when several people work as a team each person’s perception plays an important role in accomplishing any task. read more


In this article I’ll address what individuation from our family of origin is, why it’s important and how it is accomplished in a healthy manner. Individuation is a normal,healthy process that young adults go through to become independent which may be difficult for their parents. Basically, we differentiate ourselves from our family’s ways of viewing the world and define ourselves as being different. Doing this helps us become autonomous. We no longer live a life prescribed by anyone else. We define our values and try to live according to them. We take responsibility for our beliefs, behaviors, choices and relationships. The more responsibility we have the more freedom we also have.

The process of individuation from our parents is most effective when our parents are alive and we are in a relationship with them. The more completely we individuate the more we are our own person. If we are unable to individuate there is a strong possibility we will relate to a significant partner as if he/she were our parent. If a critical parent’s voice becomes part of our inner self-talk it is difficult for us to learn to trust ourselves. Our self-confidence and esteem will be affected by this internalized critical voice. read more



A lot has been written about the behavior of blame in significant relationships. An anonymous quote says, “Blame is a cognitive distortion,” which is an interesting concept. The kind of blame I am addressing is not the kind that involves conflict that ends up in a courtroom. I am addressing the kind of blame that occurs in conflicts in personal, sometimes professional relationships that can be worked out without lawyers. Indeed when lawyers become involved differences are rarely worked out positively. Couples who have come to the brink of a divorce can actually repair with the help of a good couples’ therapist. Unfortunately when one partner involves a lawyer the end of the relationship is certain. read more

Relationship Skills: Respect and Apology

The song “Respect” has meant a great deal to many people.  Otis Redding wrote the song and Aretha Franklin performed it with her incredible, powerful talent.  Many people identify with this song.  The most powerful phrase in the song is, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.”  In other words, we define respect according to our own perception of reality and it is the responsibility of each person in any relationship to state their definition of respect and to understand the other person’s definition of respect.   read more

Self-Esteem or Narcissism?

People have always disagreed about importance of self-esteem. William James (1842-1910) introduced the idea over 100 years ago. Albert Ellis (1913-2007) criticized the idea as being unrealistic, illogical and self-destructive. Abraham Maslow (1909-1970) believed positive self-esteem increases our ability to treat other people with respect, kindness and good-will resulting in better relationships. Recently several writers have been comparing positive self esteem with narcissism.  It is important to distinguish between the two. How we understand these two different concepts affects how we raise children.  read more

Judgement or Acceptance in Relationships

Choices and Differences

The ability to decide what we like or dislike is an important part of being an individual. It is enriching to have choices about what to eat, wear, do, etc.  Many of our choices become our identity. While it’s important for all of us to have choices as individuals it’s also important for partners to be tolerant of each other’s differences. This is especially true during the early years of a relationship when it is time for partners to work together to define their relationship. The early years of a relationship are about building a new family that is different from either partner’s family. read more

Is It Attraction, Addiction or Love?

Many people confuse feelings of attraction with feelings of love.  Attraction is the first part of growing to love someone.  The attraction phase often ends after about two years.  Although attraction is important to a relationship, it is just a beginning and cannot hold a relationship together for many years. With attraction comes the adrenaline rush many confuse with love. That adrenaline rush can be addictive. A lasting relationship cannot be based on physical attraction or addiction to an adrenaline rush. click here for more

Attitudes in Relationships

For many years, I felt uncomfortable when someone started talking about another person’s “attitude.” It seemed that the speaker was angry and wanted to make the other person change. When the angry person exploded with “I don’t like your attitude,” it was as if they expected the other person to just have a better one. This did not make sense to me so I did some research and thinking about what an attitude is. click here to read more

Developing Healthy Relationship Skills

Development of Healthy Relationship Skills

We begin to learn how to be in relationships when we are newborn infants.  The areas of the brain that are most important for relating are fully developed at birth.  Having a well-attuned parent who can deeply attach with us during those months of life is vital for the development of healthy relationship skills.  Those who do not receive this healthy attuned care-giving are likely to develop difficult attachment styles.  Problematic attachment styles are often at the root of many adult relationship problems. click here to read more



Validation is a vital part of healthy relationships. When a person is validated they feel safe, heard and understood. Validation is like water; we all need it. Invalidation is to question, reject, ignore, mock, tease, judge, or diminish someone’s thoughts/feelings. It can be an attempt to control how they feel. A child who is invalidated a great deal becomes confused and begins to distrust her own emotions. She fails to develop confidence in the healthy use of her emotional brain which is vital for survival. In trying to adapt to an unhealthy environment the working relationship between his thoughts and feelings becomes twisted. It is possible that his emotional responses, management and development will be impaired. The emotional processes which worked for her as a child may begin to work against her as an adult.

When we invalidate people by denying their perceptions, questioning, or misinterpreting them we make mental invalids of them. R. D. Laing found that when one’s feelings are denied a person can be made to feel crazy even if they are perfectly mentally healthy. read more!