Thursday, September 22, 2016

Coping with Worry

Tossing and turning at night, thinking nonstop through the ins and outs of various concerns and their potential outcomes, and not being able to get much control over those thoughts is a common complaint I hear in therapy sessions. Worry is normal and has a purpose, but it becomes a problem when it interferes with sleep or our ability to focus on other activities. Sometimes we know we need to put something out of our minds, but we just can’t do it.
Most of my clients really want to get to the bottom of things. They want to know why the particular problems in their lives are occurring and why these issues affect them so deeply. This takes time and the insight and healing we obtain along the way are critical to making significant change. I don’t believe there are many effective ways to short cut this process. However, sometimes we need something we can do right now to help us feel a little better.
Research suggests that most of what we worry about doesn’t actually happen and when it does, most of the time we handle it better than we thought we would.
Reminding ourselves of this can be comforting. Sometimes we’re so worried about something happening that we don’t stop to think that maybe we can actually handle what we fear, even if going through it will be painful.
Worry is often a way that we avoid coping with potentially undesirable outcomes or feelings. But in order to move on, sometimes we need to feel the feelings and face the circumstances we’d rather not deal with.
It can be helpful to let ourselves go to those potential outcomes in our minds and to create a solution or plan to handle what we dread, or if nothing can be done, attempt to make some peace with the outcome. Imagining ourselves coping and managing the problem if the worst does happen can be empowering. And it’s important to let ourselves feel the feelings and be more gentle with ourselves for having them rather than trying to avoid them.
Mindfulness can be a useful exercise for coping with the feelings rather than resisting them. Mindfulness is not emptying your mind as many people think. It’s actually a heightening of awareness of your five senses and internal sensations. You take a moment to stop and breathe, to notice and name the sensations on your skin (touch) or in your body, the sounds around you, the smells, the things you see. When a thought comes into your mind, you note it, “Hmmm. I see that I’m worrying about whether my boss is disappointed with the project I submitted yesterday.” Don’t judge the thought or yourself for worrying about it. Imagine looking at a ticker tape with the worry thought passing by and then note the various senses again. This can be a grounding exercise. It’s hard to be entirely wrapped up in the worry when you allow other things to exist in the same space with it (your sense of touch, smell, taste, sight, sound). In this way, you become more of an observer and can achieve a bit of objectivity as well as process the emotions you are feeling. You can do it on your own, but here is a link to a mindfulness exercise if you’d like a little help: https://www.livingwell.org.au/mindfulness-exercises-3/2-mindfulness-of-the-external-world-2/
Sometimes we need a break from the distressing thoughts and feelings. It can be helpful to schedule a later time when we will come back to the thoughts. Knowing that we’ve scheduled time tomorrow morning or later the same day to further process the thoughts can help us get some rest from the ruminating.
Coping with worry and all that is connected to it can be more complicated for some of us and we may need more than just a few tips to get through it. It can really help to have a trusted friend to talk to. Psychotherapy can also be tremendously  beneficial for processing complicated emotions and thoughts. This is especially true if you are experiencing depression or anxiety. Being human means we will go through hard times. Worry won’t change this. Coming to terms with pain, loss, and embarrassment is an important process we all must face. I hope some of you will find these tools helpful on your journey!

Melissa

Melissa King, LMHC : Psychotherapist
141 E. 35th St., New York, NY
myheartdances.com
917-689-6530

Monday Night Women's Group


Group therapy is a great opportunity to explore concerns and grow with the support of the therapist and feedback from the women participating with you. The group is made up of ladies like you who are interested in self-growth, connection, and feeling better. You can learn about yourself in the context of relationships through group therapy in a way that is more difficult to learn in individual therapy because the group creates a microcosm of our life outside of the group and allows us to get some insight into the way we relate, connect, and express ourselves with others.

If you're curious about group therapy, schedule a complimentary appointment with me so we can talk more about it and see if it makes sense for you to try out.  

More Details Below

What: Women's Therapy Group
When: Mondays
Time: 7:10-8:40 pm
Where: E. 35th and Lexington
Cost: $60 per session or $200 for 4-sessions. First session is free.
More Info
Click Here 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Love Forces Us to Grow and Upcoming Events

I know this blog has been quiet for awhile, but things over here have been alive and busy! 

Earlier this year I hosted a workshop on shame at Metropolitan Community Church, which is a deeply spiritual LGBTQ faith community. Many of us struggle with shame, but it is of particular difficulty for those of Christian faith who identify as LGBTQ. Even when affirmed in an amazing Christian home like MCCNY, many face challenges healing from the rejection experienced and beliefs taught at their former churches and in their families. I have a big heart for this demographic.

I followed that workshop this spring with an 8-week Self-Identified Men's Therapy Group at MCCNY. It was powerful and the men gained so much from sharing their stories, supporting each other, and laughing together. We read the book Blue Boy by Rakesh Satyal, which is about a young boy discovering his own gender, cultural, spiritual, sexual, and racial identities. In our final session, Mr. Satyal (who is deep, thoughtful, and hilarious) attended to answer questions, sign books, and share cake with us. We all had a fun but also deeply meaningful time together.


I continue to provide individual, couples, and group therapy at my office in Midtown. I'm also looking for office space on the Upper West Side for Wednesday evenings. If you are interested in therapy and this is a more convenient location for you, give me a call 917-689-6530 or send me a note.

Below I've posted a great article from the NY Times on Why You Will Marry The Wrong Person (and why this is okay). We're also seeking new participants for my Monday Night Women's Group. And there are a few other items that may be of interest.

Hope you are having a great summer!

Melissa

Melissa King, LMHC : Psychotherapist
myheartdances.com
917-689-6530

Understanding Relationship Dynamics: Women's Therapy Group - Seeking New Members

My women's therapy group continues to meet on Monday nights and we are looking for new ladies to join us. If you are interested in having a better understanding of your interpersonal relationships, this may be a great fit for you.

If you're curious about group therapy, schedule a complimentary appointment with me so we can talk more about it and see if it makes sense for you to try out. 

More Details Below

When: Mondays
Time: 7:10-8:40 pm
Where: E. 35th and Lexington
Cost: $60 per session or $200 for 4-sessions. First session is free.
 
This therapy group is for women who desire to connect with other women through insightful and inspiring discussion around issues that specifically affect members' personal lives here in the city. There will be opportunities to discuss career, personal goals, self-image, family dynamics, romantic relationships, emotional and mental health, and spirituality. This group is a great opportunity for internal exploration and personal growth. The first session is free and requires no commitment. After the first session, if you decide to join, the group requires a minimum 4-session commitment.



The group is great for women who are interested in

   •    improving self-acceptance and self-respect

   •    working towards life/relationship/health/career goals with the support of other women

   •    learning new habits that lead to better communication & improved intimacy w/others

   •    enhancing emotional and mental wellness 


The group is made up of women in their late 20s, 30s, and 40s. 



About Group Therapy

Groups offer a unique opportunity to learn about ourselves and our relationships, especially for those who need healing from current or past relationships or relational patterns (r
omantic, familial, social). Personal healing and insight often takes place more quickly as life experiences are shared and reflected among the members. As a therapist, I am very active in facilitating a thought provoking experience within the group, allowing space for self-exploration, relationship building, and opportunities to gain clarity and insight into social experiences within the group that represent aspects of life outside the group.

When?

Group meets weekly on Monday evenings from 7:10-8:40 pm.
 

Where?
 

141 E. 35th St. between Lexington and 3rd

How Many Participants?

To facilitate intimate discussion and personal growth, the group is limited to 8 participants. 

Cost?

The first session is free as an opportunity to try out the group. If you decide to join, the group is $60 per session or $200 for 4-sessions, with a minimum 4-session commitment.

How Do I Sign Up or Learn More?

I meet with each individual interested in the group to make sure the group will be a good fit. I also make a priority of ensuring that members are well-matched and likely to benefit from each others' contributions in the group.

There is no charge for this one-on-one meeting and no obligation to commit to the group. It is an opportunity to meet me and explore whether the group is a good fit for your personal needs.

Contact Info

Please call or email to schedule an appointment or ask for more information melissa@myheartdances.com or 917-689-6530.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Melissa

Why You Will Marry The Wrong Person

Speaking of dating and relationships. If you are seeking a long-term partner or in a relationship, an excellent article came out in the NY Times last month that I highly recommend: Why You Will Marry The Wrong Person.

My own training in couples therapy taught me that we ALL marry the wrong person. The task is to learn how the particular challenges we face in our relationships refine us, challenge us to grow, and help us to really learn how to love another person.

This doesn't mean that we should just marry anyone. I do believe it's important to seek someone who you enjoy being around, who shares important values, who puts equal effort into the relationship, and who is committed to working through problems.

Melissa

Melissa King, LMHC : Psychotherapist
myheartdances.com 
917-689-6530

Prior to offering psychotherapy, Melissa spent over 10 years working as a wellness coach for women focusing on health, weight loss, self-esteem, and achieving personal goals. As a psychotherapist, she has gained experience working with individuals, couples, and groups around a range of issues including Intimacy, Interpersonal Relationship Issues, Insecurity in Social Situations, Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Sexual Assault, Sex Addiction, Alcohol and other Substance Use Concerns, Sexual Health, Coping with a Herpes Diagnosis, HIV, and concerns related to Sexual Orientation. Melissa King is a New York State Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a National Certified Counselor.

Other posts you might like:


Neediness and Needing Others


Facing Problem After Problem: Thoughts on Coping

The Difficulty in "Following Your Heart"

My Body... Finally.

14 Days Closer to Love

What Our Painful Stories Say About Us

One Small Question About My Big Butt

Cliché Dating Advice? Here's My Response

My Journey with Bulimia

Things People Said that Changed My Life

Sign-up to receive these posts via e-mail: Simply Flaw-thentic

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Neediness and Needing Others

by Derriel Street Photography bit.ly/1LjFK1H
A common concern among heterosexual women I work with who desire to find a long-term partner, is a fear of being needy. These women are usually bright, independent, and socially competent but are frustrated with dating because experiences with potential partners often seem to go nowhere.

Neediness is a trait society tends to associate with women, and many single women quickly absorb the idea that men fear and despise this trait. Women who have not experienced healthy attachment with early male figures are especially likely to buy into the notion that they must be ultra independent and “low maintenance” to attract and keep a man. In an attempt to display these characteristics, these women reject their own longing to be important, to be a priority in someone’s life, and for their normal and healthy emotional needs to be met and cared about by a partner.

Attracting Unavailable Men


The problem is that this woman seems to attract men who want exactly that from her--to not be needed. She starts to feel like a magnet for men who are emotionally unavailable and uninterested in a committed relationship or in making her a real priority. She often feels frustrated when the man doesn’t plan ahead for dates, allows too much time to go by between texts or phone calls, and sometimes doesn’t follow through with what he says he’ll do. However, when the two do spend time together, there is often a lot of fun and chemistry, and this leads to her feeling confused and hurt when he doesn’t become more attentive and pursue her further. In fact, when she starts to let some of her needs show, he runs.

Certainly, some people expect a partner to fulfill parts of themselves another individual just can’t fill, and it’s important that this is addressed. But most of the women I work with express needs that are normal and healthy. Unfortunately, these very healthy needs likely weren’t positively mirrored or attended to sufficiently when growing up. Even if the woman had a great childhood and a great family, there may have been missing pieces that left her emotional needs partially unmet. So, there’s actually a mysterious familiarity and excitement she feels with potential partners who will ultimately turn out to repeat this same pattern (leaving her needs unmet). Ironically, she may find herself feeling uncomfortable and repelled by men who are capable of being close and who would like to meet her emotional needs.


The Good News

The good news is that women can explore this dynamic in their lives and shift their attraction toward men who are a better match. It takes a lot of hard work and it doesn’t happen overnight, but I’ve seen women do it.  

One thing I work on with a client who has this experience is to help her learn about her needs and to begin to understand them as healthy. It’s also important to build confidence in expressing herself and her needs to others and believing that her expectations in relationships are reasonable. This often requires being vulnerable in new ways, including facing rejection from the unavailable men she hopes will love her. This new vulnerability and confidence can help prepare her for real intimacy with a great guy who shows up and with whom she is attracted. 


We Need Connection

It is okay to need and desire companionship and a committed romantic partner. I don’t mean that someone can’t have a fulfilling single life. There are many singles who are happier than their married counterparts. But we do need community. We need connection. Men desire connection too. The ones who do and who are looking for and are able to participate fully in a relationship may not be drawn to you if you’re pretending you’re the “cool girl” who doesn’t need anyone. Many men who want a relationship also want to be needed.

If you think your needs truly are overwhelming to others and unreasonable, this can also be explored in therapy and brought into greater balance as you increase your ability to care for yourself.

If this sounds like you, find a great therapist or support group that can offer you support in understanding these dynamics so that you can begin to move forward. 

Melissa King, M.S.Ed. : Psychotherapist
Individual, Couples, and Group Psychotherapy in NYC
myheartdances.com
917-689-6530

As a therapist, I am passionate about supporting clients  and empowering individuals who desire to better understand their relationship and dating patterns. I especially love to help those who have experienced shame, stigma, and issues related to sex and sexual health (i.e. a herpes diagnosis). I also care deeply about working with individuals who are wrestling with questions around faith and spirituality. I am a New York State Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a National Certified Counselor. I hold an M.S.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from St. John's University.

Other posts you might like:

Facing Problem After Problem: Thoughts on Coping

The Difficulty in "Following Your Heart"

PMS and Winter Blues: An Alternative View for Women

My Body... Finally.

14 Days Closer to Love

What Our Painful Stories Say About Us

One Small Question About My Big Butt

Cliché Dating Advice? Here's My Response

Things People Said that Changed My Life

Sign-up to receive these posts via e-mail: Simply Flaw-thentic

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Current Therapy Groups

About Group Therapy

Groups offer a unique opportunity to learn about ourselves and our relationships, especially for those who need healing from current or past relationships or relational patterns (romantic, familial, social). Personal healing and insight often takes place more quickly as life experiences are shared and reflected among the members. As a therapist, I am very active in facilitating a thought provoking experience within the group, allowing space for self-exploration, relationship building, and opportunities to gain clarity and insight into social experiences within the group that represent aspects of life outside the group.

If you are interested in any of these groups, please contact me for more information. There is no charge to schedule an appointment with me to explore your interest in a group and no obligation to join.

The following groups are accepting new participants.



This group is for women who desire to connect with other women through insightful and inspiring discussion around issues that specifically affect members' personal lives here in the city. There will be opportunities to discuss career, personal goals, self-image, family dynamics, romantic relationships, health, and spirituality. This group is a great opportunity for internal exploration and personal growth. The first session is free and requires no commitment. After the first session, if you decide to join, the group requires a minimum 4-session commitment. $60 per session or $200 for 4 sessions. Click here for more info.


Women Diagnosed with Herpes

Herpes is much more common than most people think, but the stigma lives on and can really affect how someone feels about themselves and their future dating prospects. Being a part of a group of other great women can really help with becoming well-informed and feeling like yourself again. In this group, we talk a lot about relationships, dating, and body image, along with learning facts about herpes and what this information means for you. There are 2 groups, one for women in their 20s and 30s and the other for women in their 40s. The first session is free and requires no commitment. After the first session, if you decide to join, the group requires a minimum 4-session commitment. $200 every for 4 sessions. Click here for more info.


To refer someone or inquire about either of these groups, please contact me at 917-689-6530 or melissa@myheartdances.com. Visit myheartdances.com for more info.

There is no charge to schedule an appointment with me to explore your interest in a group and no obligation to join.

Melissa

Melissa King, LMHC : Psychotherapist
Individual, Couples, and Group Psychotherapy in NYC
myheartdances.com
917-689-6530

As a therapist, I am passionate about supporting clients  and empowering individuals who desire to better understand their relationship and dating patterns. I especially love to help those who have experienced shame, stigma, and issues related to sex and sexual health (i.e. a herpes diagnosis). I also care deeply about working with individuals who are wrestling with questions around faith and spirituality. I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and National Certified Counselor. I hold an M.S.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from St. John's University.

Other posts you might like:

Facing Problem After Problem: Thoughts on Coping

The Difficulty in "Following Your Heart"

PMS and Winter Blues: An Alternative View for Women

My Body... Finally.

14 Days Closer to Love

What Our Painful Stories Say About Us

One Small Question About My Big Butt

Cliché Dating Advice? Here's My Response

Things People Said that Changed My Life

Sign-up to receive these posts via e-mail: Simply Flaw-thentic

Monday, February 8, 2016

Group for Women with Herpes

I know that being diagnosed with herpes can be surprising and difficult. You might find it hard to imagine life feeling normal again or another person accepting you with this. By now you might already know how common herpes is. The CDC reports that 1 in 6 people have herpes type 2. That's a lot of people, and that number doesn't include the many people who have type 1 genital herpes. That means the number of people with genital herpes is higher than 1 in 6. Statistics have also shown that the rate is even higher here in New York City.

Despite how common it is, we don't talk about it much in our society (outside of comedy). This contributes to misinformation that keeps stigma alive for the many people who are dealing with a diagnosis.

But there is good news. Many women just like you are able to feel good about themselves again, find acceptance from others, and place herpes exactly where it should be---as just one small part of the many characteristics that make up you.

Check out my video below to find out more about the group.


The group discussions are intimate and held in a comfortable, private space. The women get to know each other and look forward to seeing each other each session. It's a positive atmosphere that is a great fit for women who want to grow and move forward.

When: Group meets on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month
What time: 5-6:30pm
Cost: $200 for 4 sessions There is no charge for your first visit. It's just an opportunity for you to see if you like it and if you connect with the other women.

**The above group is for women in their 20s and 30s. If you are 40+ please contact me for resources.

What will we talk about?

The group is facilitated by me. I hold a master's degree in clinical mental health counseling and am a certified holistic health coach. I have over 10 years of experience leading women's groups and coaching women who are looking for support in achieving personal goals, improving self-esteem and body image, and increasing opportunities for more satisfying relationships (dating/family/friendships). In the group for women with herpes, we talk about many of the above topics that are familiar to most women, but we also discuss

  • The difference between HSV 1 and HSV 2
  • Accurate testing (many women are still not receiving the best tests, as a result, they are misinformed about their diagnosis) 
  • Managing symptoms 
  • Transmission and how to protect future partners 
  • How to tell a new partner 
  • Most importantly, you will get to hear the stories of other women who are like you.

The group is limited to 8 women and is held in Midtown Manhattan.

How Do I Find Out More?

Please email or call if you have an interest in the group or would simply like more information: melissa@myheartdances.com or 917-689-6530. You will have an opportunity to meet and talk with me in person, as well, before making a final decision about joining the group.

Older related herpes posts:

Learning About the 'H' Word. No. Not Hemorrhoids. 

How I Came to Work with Women with Herpes


Melissa King, LMHC : Psychotherapist
myheartdances.com
917-689-6530

Melissa King is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in New York State and a National Certified Counselor. She previously worked with the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene providing counseling services for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene at New York City's public STD clinics. Melissa is also a certified holistic health coach, with over 12 years of experience working with women on weight loss, healthier eating, improving body image, dating and relationship concerns, and aligning goals with personal values. Melissa has provided wellness workshops at area universities, hospitals, and organizations such as Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Harlem Hospital, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York Law School, St. John's University, Latino Aids Commission, Broadway Dance Center, the NY State Department of Labor, and the New York Television Festival. Topics have included: "The Top Ten Changes to Your Food Choices for Better Health," "Nutrition, Emotions, and Weight Loss," and "Self-esteem and Body Image."

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A Healing & Affirming Therapy Group for Gay/Bi Men of Christian Faith


This is a gay/bi affirming group for men who come from a Christian faith background to explore and heal around experiences of rejection within the church due to having a homosexual orientation and to experience a safe and positive space to explore sexual development, desire, singleness, dating, and relationships.

This group is ideal for men who desire to find a new way to embrace their Christian faith while also having an opportunity to discuss and gain empowerment around healthy sexual development, dating, and relationships in an affirming space.

If you think this group might be a good fit for your needs or you are simply interested in learning more about this group, please contact me at melissa@myheartdances.com or 917-689-6530

About Group Therapy

Groups offer a unique opportunity to learn about ourselves and our relationships, especially for those who need healing from current or past relationships or relational patterns (romantic, familial, social). Personal healing and insight often takes place more quickly as life experiences are shared and reflected among the members. As a therapist, I am very active in facilitating a thought provoking experience within the group, allowing space for self-exploration, relationship building, and opportunities to gain clarity and insight into social experiences within the group that represent aspects of life outside the group.

When?

Group will meet weekly for 6 weeks with the option of continuing for 6 additional weeks. Meetings are 90 minutes. Date and time will be determined prior to first session based on the scheduling needs of participants. I am interviewing participants in January and the group is expected to begin in February.

Where?

141 E. 35th St., between Lexington and 3rd 

How Many Participants?

To facilitate intimate discussion and personal growth, the group will be limited to 8 participants.

Cost?

Group is $45 per session or $250 when paying for the entire 6 weeks prior to the first meeting.

How Do I Sign Up or Learn More?

I meet with each individual interested in the group to make sure the group will be a good fit. I also make a priority of ensuring that members are well-matched and likely to benefit from each others' contributions in the group.

I will be meeting with interested individuals throughout the month of January. Please call or email to schedule an appointment or ask for more information melissa@myheartdances.com or 917-689-6530. There is no charge for this one-on-one meeting and no obligation to commit to the group. It is an opportunity to meet me and explore whether the group is a good fit for your personal needs.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Melissa

A Bit About Me: Melissa King is a psychotherapist who deeply values creating space for clients struggling with Christian faith to explore faith authentically at their own pace, to understand themselves and the value of their questions and experiences, and to come to their own decisions about how to define and cultivate their relationship with faith, possibly in a redefined way. Melissa has a special interest in working with clients who have experienced stigma and shame, particularly related to sex and sexuality. Melissa also enjoys working with clients who desire to find a partner or want to better understand their relationship patterns.

Melissa King, M.S.Ed. : Psychotherapist
myheartdances.com
917-689-6530

Prior to offering psychotherapy, Melissa spent over 10 years working as a wellness coach for women focusing on health, weight loss, self-esteem, and achieving personal goals. In addition to working in the private practice of Charles Mayer, Psy.D., Melissa recently spent 18-months with the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene at the NYC Department of Health, where she provided counseling to individuals with a range of concerns, including Interpersonal Relationship Issues, Insecurity in Social Situations, Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Sexual Assault, Sex Addiction, Alcohol and other Substance Use Concerns, Sexual Health, Coping with a Herpes Diagnosis, HIV, and concerns related to Sexual Orientation. Melissa King holds an M.S.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from St. John's University. She is a National Certified Counselor and a New York State permit holder in mental health counseling.

Other posts you might like:

Facing Problem After Problem: Thoughts on Coping

The Difficulty in "Following Your Heart"

PMS and Winter Blues: An Alternative View for Women

My Body... Finally.

14 Days Closer to Love

What Our Painful Stories Say About Us

One Small Question About My Big Butt

Cliché Dating Advice? Here's My Response

My Journey with Bulimia

Things People Said that Changed My Life

Sign-up to receive these posts via e-mail: Simply Flaw-thentic

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Faith In Question: When You No Longer Feel Certain About Your Spiritual Faith

Spiritual faith is an important if not foundational part of many people’s lives. It can also be a source of internal conflict and sadness, especially if you come from a tradition that doesn’t allow much space for questioning or difference--and you happen to be questioning or different. While this can happen in any spiritual tradition, my personal experience has largely been with the struggle of individuals who come from a conservative, evangelical Christian background. This is an area of special interest for me, and I’m quite aware of and sensitive to the loneliness and alienation that Christians can experience if they go through a period of questioning faith or questioning the way in which their communities interpret how faith should be lived out. This experience of loneliness and alienation is also often true for those who have been silenced, hurt, or rejected by their church communities because of difference, such as having an LGBT identity.

It can be a really difficult and scary experience to question in a way that is not welcomed or shared by your faith community. The church often serves as a space for deep connection, valued relationships, identity, belonging, safety, and spiritual fulfillment. The loss that comes with having to decide between being authentic or keeping quiet and “going along” is distressing. Individuals who go through this often struggle to find others who they can safely talk with about their experiences and thoughts on faith. Friends who don’t come from the same faith background may not be able to understand or value the deep meanings and attachments that still feel important. Your sense of identity might even feel threatened, and you may wonder what it will mean for you if you don’t continue in your faith exactly as you were taught.

Avoiding the questions or pretending you’re someone you’re not usually doesn’t work that well, especially if your faith is meaningful to you. And I’ve come to believe that honesty with yourself is the only way through this difficult path, and for many, this makes the way for a deepening of faith.

I really value offering a safe space where faith can be explored and integrated into your therapy goals at your own pace and in a way that allows you to both embrace your faith and your questions. Questioning is a vulnerable experience and finding a place to talk and fully explore the questions can be really helpful and healing.

Some books that many on this journey have found beneficial are

A New Kind of Christianity by Brian McLaren
Femmevangelical by Jennifer Crumpton
Torn by Justin Lee (for LGBT from a conservative Christian background)

Melissa

Melissa King, M.S.Ed. : Psychotherapist
myheartdances.com
917-689-6530

Prior to offering psychotherapy, Melissa spent over 10 years working as a wellness coach for women focusing on health, weight loss, self-esteem, and achieving personal goals. In addition to working in the private practice of Charles Mayer, Psy.D., Melissa recently spent 18-months with the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene at the NYC Department of Health, where she provided counseling to individuals with a range of concerns, including Interpersonal Relationship Issues, Insecurity in Social Situations, Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Sexual Assault, Sex Addiction, Alcohol and other Substance Use Concerns, Sexual Health, Coping with a Herpes Diagnosis, HIV, and concerns related to Sexual Orientation. Melissa King holds an M.S.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from St. John's University. She is a National Certified Counselor and a New York State permit holder in mental health counseling.

Other posts you might like:

Facing Problem After Problem: Thoughts on Coping

The Difficulty in "Following Your Heart"

PMS and Winter Blues: An Alternative View for Women

My Body... Finally.

14 Days Closer to Love

What Our Painful Stories Say About Us

One Small Question About My Big Butt

Cliché Dating Advice? Here's My Response

My Journey with Bulimia

Things People Said that Changed My Life

Sign-up to receive these posts via e-mail: Simply Flaw-thentic

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Facing Problem after Problem? Thoughts on Coping.

The cold, gray winter is quickly approaching and this seasonal change tends to correspond with periodic or persistent low mood for many. Problems and worries can really feel heavier. It might be hard to believe, but this experience can have value. It can become a time of wrestling with our humanity, connecting to what’s meaningful in our lives, and increasing our awareness and sensitivity to the reality of struggle for others.

As you move through adulthood, you might begin to feel like life is rarely free of problems, and this can be disillusioning. Most of us are taught that if we work hard and do all the right things, life will work out well for us, and we won’t suffer the problems that others face. So when you continue to have struggle after struggle, you might start to feel like something is wrong with you, that you really screwed up or made the wrong decision somewhere along the line, that maybe you should've listened to (fill in the blank), or maybe the world or God just has it in for you.

Image by Robert Weis via Wikipedia Commons http://bit.ly/1MUtQRG

The good news is that it really is not just you. Life is hard--for most of us. We might have brief reprieves from carrying around a problem that has to be tackled, but some problems will stick around or come back, and while we may solve others, we’re likely to find a new one lurking not too far away.

But if you just keep focusing on problem after problem, thinking life will be okay once you've crossed this final hurdle, you may soon find yourself exhausted and lose hope for a good future. What can be more helpful is to step back for a second and work on coming to a place of acceptance--that this is part of being human--and focus on growing your ability to cope with the problem of facing problems. The challenge is less about the individual issues and more about learning to come to terms with being a human who must deal with problems, some quite painful, throughout life.

I know it can be very difficult when facing your particular challenges, to look around you and perceive that others seem to have it so much easier, to be more successful, or to have the resources to handle their problems easier. Often this is just our perception. A friend once said to me, "People’s outsides often look better than their insides." This is so true. But it’s also true that, while no life will be free of painful problems, some lives face greater and/or more frequent challenges than others. And this can certainly add feelings of grief to our own personal experience and questions about our lot in life.

There are ways of finding more peace and increasing your coping skills. Below is a list of some tools people use to begin this journey:
    1. Faith and Spirituality
    2. Meditation Practices
    3. Actively seeking community and authentic relationships
    4. Group Therapy--a great way to work on problems, connect with others, and better understand your own relationship dynamics (I'll be posting new groups for 2016 soon).
    5. Psychotherapy
    6. Reading others’ stories: Memoirs, biographies
    7. Changing your thoughts about what you’re going through.
    8. Practicing self-compassion
    9. Including meaningful activities, when possible, even while coping with the problems. Actively practice making sure your life goes on.

    A few books some of my clients are raving about that have been helpful:
    I always welcome your thoughts, reactions, and ponderings about topics written on this blog. Just leave a comment or send me a private message.

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    Individual and couples therapy are available at my office in Midtown, Manhattan. Call or send an email to set up a free phone consultation. 

    Melissa

    Melissa King, M.S.Ed. : Psychotherapist
    myheartdances.com
    917-689-6530

    Prior to offering psychotherapy, Melissa spent over 10 years working as a wellness coach for women focusing on health, weight loss, self-esteem, and achieving personal goals. In addition to working in the private practice of Charles Mayer, Psy.D., Melissa recently spent 18-months with the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene at the NYC Department of Health, where she provided counseling to individuals with a range of concerns, including Interpersonal Relationship Issues, Insecurity in Social Situations, Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Sexual Assault, Sex Addiction, Alcohol and other Substance Use Concerns, Sexual Health, Coping with a Herpes Diagnosis, HIV, and concerns related to Sexual Orientation. Melissa King holds an M.S.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from St. John's University. She is a National Certified Counselor and a New York State permit holder in mental health counseling.

    Wednesday, October 28, 2015

    Sex and Dating: Knowing and Valuing What Matters to You (Part 3)

    Part 1 and 2 in this series talked about the importance of knowing yourself and taking care of your mental and emotional needs when it comes to making decisions about sex. I also gave you some exercises to help you clarify what your needs and values are when it comes to sex and dating. This week, we’re going to talk about actually communicating these values/needs with a partner. Since this series was primarily written for individuals who tend to have sex before they’re ready (or when they don’t really want to), I’m going to use that scenario for this section of the series.

    Go Slow and Find Space to Reconnect with Yourself

    First, it’s important and okay to pace yourself. When relationships move fast at the beginning, we can easily lose touch with parts of who we are and it can be difficult to discern who your new person-of-interest really is as well. Don’t be afraid to take the time and space to notice how you are feeling as the relationship progresses. Take time to tune in to all of the things we’ve talked about in part 1 and part 2. Slowing down might mean taking a bit longer to respond to a phone call or text so that you can check in with yourself. It might mean spending some time alone or with friends in between dates. You can pace yourself while letting your new person know you’re really looking forward to talking or seeing them (if that’s how you really feel): “Hey! I’m not free tomorrow, but how about Friday? It was great to see you last night!” Pacing yourself can also help you notice if your new person-of-interest is not getting in touch with you enough and how this makes you feel--maybe you notice it’s a turn-off even if you are attracted to them.

    I’m not talking about playing games as a strategy to hook your partner’s interest (such as “playing hard to get”). Pacing yourself is about making time and space to reconnect with yourself so that you can make decisions about the relationship with a clear head.

    Talking to Your Partner

    Next, you’ve done a lot of work in parts 1 and 2 to get clear on what’s important to you about sex, so when it feels like it’s time to share this with your partner, share it in a way that is as genuine and authentic as you are able. I think it’s also best to assume that your new partner will value and respect what you are sharing. That way you’ll be more likely to communicate it in a caring way while also maintaining self-respect: “I really love how things are going between us. I want you to know that sex is important to me and that I’m excited about the idea of having sex with you but I decided awhile ago that I only want to have sex inside a committed relationship, and since we’re still just getting to know each other, I’m not ready to take that step yet.” Of course, you can fill in the words with whatever it is that you have learned is important to you.

    Also, be careful to keep the focus on who you are and what you need rather than basing your communication and decisions about sex on reassurances from your new partner. Saying something like, “I only want to have sex if you’re going to stick around,” usually comes from a place of being disempowered and disconnected from yourself. It’s also a sign that you don’t feel safe and secure emotionally. If that’s how you feel with this person, it might mean that you’re not ready to have sex with them no matter how many assurances they give.

    Give Your Person-of-Interest a Chance to Respond

    Once you’ve shared who you are from an authentic place and in a caring way, wait to see what your partner says. Give them a chance to think about it and respond. If your partner responds disrespectfully, this is valuable information about your potential partner and how they’ll behave in a relationship. If your partner’s needs are in conflict with yours, this is also good information to process and consider for whether your needs can be met with this partner. And if your partner’s needs are the same or your partner is okay with where you’re at, that’s great news. You may have found yourself closer to a great match!

    I’ve got some exciting posts planned for the coming months. I can’t wait to share them! I always welcome your thoughts, reactions, and ponderings about topics written on this blog. Just leave a comment or send me a private message.

    Melissa

    *Individual and couples therapy are available at my office in Midtown, Manhattan. Call or send an email to set up a free phone consultation.

    Melissa King, M.S.Ed. : Psychotherapist
    myheartdances.com
    917-689-6530

    Prior to offering psychotherapy, Melissa spent over 10 years working as a wellness coach for women focusing on health, weight loss, self-esteem, and achieving personal goals. In addition to working in the private practice of Charles Mayer, Psy.D., Melissa recently spent 18-months with the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene at the NYC Department of Health, where she provided counseling to individuals with a range of concerns, including Interpersonal Relationship Issues, Insecurity in Social Situations, Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Sexual Assault, Sex Addiction, Alcohol and other Substance Use Concerns, Sexual Health, Coping with a Herpes Diagnosis, HIV, and concerns related to Sexual Orientation. Melissa King holds an M.S.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from St. John's University. She is a National Certified Counselor and a New York State permit holder in mental health counseling.

    Thursday, October 8, 2015

    I'm on the Gary Hour Talking about Dating, Relationships, and Herpes!

    A few weeks ago I got to sit with Gary Levitt and Matt Kaplan in Queens, NY for The Gary Hour podcast. I had so much fun and you can hear the interview here. It's also available on iTunes and Stitcher. It's a long one, but worth it if you're interested in understanding your dating and relationship patterns. We also talk about how I started working with clients who have been diagnosed with herpes, a common STI that many people don't realize they're at risk of contracting.



    (If you can't see the recording, you can do so here.)

    I finally figured out why those of you receiving this via email or RSS feed can't see the videos/media I've been posting. Feedburner, the RSS/email service I use, does not support IFrames, which is the code I use to insert media into my blogs. You can always view media at the blog itself. Just click on the title of the blog and it will take you right there!

    Hope you're having a great week! My next post will follow-up on last week's article: Sex and Dating: Knowing and Valuing What Matters to You

    Melissa

    *Individual and couples therapy is also available at my office in Midtown, Manhattan. Call or send an email to set up a free phone consultation.

    Melissa King, M.S.Ed. : Psychotherapist
    myheartdances.com
    917-689-6530

    Prior to offering psychotherapy, Melissa spent over 10 years working as a wellness coach for women focusing on health, weight loss, self-esteem, and achieving personal goals. In addition to working in the private practice of Charles Mayer, Psy.D., Melissa recently spent 18-months with the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene at the NYC Department of Health, where she provided counseling to individuals with a range of concerns, including Interpersonal Relationship Issues, Insecurity in Social Situations, Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Sexual Assault, Sex Addiction, Alcohol and other Substance Use Concerns, Sexual Health, Coping with a Herpes Diagnosis, HIV, and concerns related to Sexual Orientation. Melissa King holds an M.S.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from St. John's University. She is a National Certified Counselor and a New York State permit holder in mental health counseling.


    Wednesday, September 30, 2015

    Sex and Dating: Knowing and Valuing What Matters to You (Part 2)

    Last week, in my post (and video) on Sex and Dating: Knowing What Matters to You and Speaking Up, I promised to share some tools this week for gaining clarity around what's important to you when it comes to sex so that you can honor yourself and communicate better in relationships.

    For the purpose of this exercise, let's think of sex broadly, not just as intercourse. 

    First, grab a sheet of paper and think for a moment about the influencers in your life.

    Important influencers can be things like:

    (If you can't see this image, click here.)

    What did these important influencers teach you about sex (positive and negative)? Make some columns and jot down notes. Remember, these could be unspoken lessons. For instance, if your parents never talked with you about sex and were not affectionate with each other, that probably taught you something about sex.

    NEXT: 

    Next, think about what you like and what you don't like about these various teachings. Notice whether there is any discrepancy between what you think about a particular lesson and what you feel about it. For instance, do you think some things are great ideas but they don't feel right for you? Are there any that you'd really like to hold onto? What about some you feel clear that you'd like to throw out?

    WHAT ARE YOUR PATTERNS?

    Now think about patterns in your life that involve sex. This might include patterns of communication, decisions to engage or not engage in sexual activity, feelings or experiences of rejection, feelings of safety and security, feelings that come up for you (positive or negative) before, during, or after a sexual activity. Do you feel this way with all the partners that you've had or just some? What experiences or decisions do you feel happy about? Which leave you feeling blah or unfulfilled?

    Also, notice whether you pressure yourself to live by any values or expectations that don't quite feel right for you. Which values are these? Do you feel compelled to please others or go along with things to avoid looking weird despite knowing you want something different?

    DEFINING WHAT'S IMPORTANT TO YOU

    Now, spend some time reviewing the notes you've taken. Then summarize what you've learned about yourself in a few points. You can use some of the following sentence starters to help.

    1. I am...................
    2. I want................
    3. I don't want.....................
    4. ......................is very important to me.
    5. I need.......................
    6. I need..................... in order to be comfortable with..................
    7. ............................... leads to me feeling down (or angry, rejected, alone, etc.).
    8. .............................. makes me feel my best.
    9. .............................. makes me feel empowered.
    10. If I'm uncertain whether I want to proceed, I can.................................
    11. If someone doesn't respect what I've communicated, I can................................. 
    12. I'd like to learn............................
    13. A challenge I would feel positive about is............................



    The more you are able to define yourself, the better you will be able to communicate when the time comes. What's also great is that the more you are able to honor yourself and communicate about what doesn't work for you, the better prepared you'll be to communicate and ask for what you DO like and want.

    Next week I'll talk more about actually communicating this stuff!

    I welcome your thoughts, reactions, and ponderings about topics written on this blog. Just leave a comment or send me a private message.

    Melissa

    *Individual and couples therapy is also available at my office in Midtown, Manhattan. Call or send an email to set up a free phone consultation.

    Melissa King, M.S.Ed. : Psychotherapist
    myheartdances.com
    917-689-6530

    Prior to offering psychotherapy, Melissa spent over 10 years working as a wellness coach for women focusing on health, weight loss, self-esteem, and achieving personal goals. In addition to working in the private practice of Charles Mayer, Psy.D., Melissa recently spent 18-months with the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene at the NYC Department of Health, where she provided counseling to individuals with a range of concerns, including Interpersonal Relationship Issues, Insecurity in Social Situations, Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Sexual Assault, Sex Addiction, Alcohol and other Substance Use Concerns, Sexual Health, Coping with a Herpes Diagnosis, HIV, and concerns related to Sexual Orientation. Melissa King holds an M.S.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from St. John's University. She is a National Certified Counselor and a New York State permit holder in mental health counseling.

    Tuesday, September 22, 2015

    Sex and Dating: Knowing What Matters to You and Speaking Up


    Sexual health is not just about physical health or knowing your STI status. Sexual health is also about mental and emotional health, knowing yourself, and being able to communicate with your partner(s). Many clients have talked with me about having sex before they're ready or engaging in sexual activities they're not comfortable with because they don't want to be rejected or because they're afraid of speaking up and looking weird.

    Getting clear on your personal values around sex and knowing how sex affects you is an important part of sexual health, and so is being able to honor what you are and aren't comfortable with. Sex is very personal and each of us has the right to define what sex means for us and how we want to engage or not engage in sex. It's also very important that your partner or potential partner respects what's important to you (whether they choose to stay or go).

    It's true that communicating about who you are and what you want or don't want may lead to rejection. Rejection is a real risk we take in relationships. However, compromising something that's important to you doesn't usually make for a good relationship or good self-esteem. What you want and what your partner wants may not be in harmony, but this certainly doesn't make you weird or unworthy. Maybe your partner will deeply value what you shared. Maybe it won't work for them and they'll move on. Maybe they'll wish it was different but because they want to be with you, they'll choose to work with it. But by pretending you're okay with things and not communicating, you risk losing the opportunity for creating something healthy, mutually supportive, and fulfilling.

    When you put your real self out there, you're bound to find people who respect and honor you...not only because they're cool with your preferences but also because you chose to be honest and real! Honesty and authenticity are attractive qualities to healthy partners!

    Next week, I'll share some tools for you to gain clarity on what's important to you around sex as it relates to dating and relationships.

    Melissa

    **This is the last week to sign up for therapy groups starting this fall. More details here:
    ***Individual and couples therapy is also available at my office in Midtown, Manhattan.

    Melissa King, M.S.Ed. : Psychotherapist
    myheartdances.com
    917-689-6530

    Prior to offering psychotherapy, Melissa spent over 10 years working as a wellness coach for women focusing on health, weight loss, self-esteem, and achieving personal goals. In addition to working in the private practice of Charles Mayer, Psy.D., Melissa recently spent 18-months with the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene at the NYC Department of Health, where she provided counseling to individuals with a range of concerns, including Interpersonal Relationship Issues, Insecurity in Social Situations, Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Sexual Assault, Sex Addiction, Alcohol and other Substance Use Concerns, Sexual Health, Coping with a Herpes Diagnosis, HIV, and concerns related to Sexual Orientation. Melissa King holds an M.S.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from St. John's University. She is a National Certified Counselor and a New York State permit holder in mental health counseling.