Call 315.637.0605 Rev. Heath Can Help!
Hi! I am Michael Heath and this is the Pine Ridge Pastoral Counseling Web Page. Pine Ridge is a place for folks who are looking for the best mental health care but who are turned off by large clinics or impersonal facilities.

Since 1994, Pine Ridge has offered a distinctive and more personal alternative for mental health needs while providing a comprehensive range of psychological services to help individuals, couples and families deal with a wide range of emotional, relational, crisis related, life phase and spiritual problems.

Since I am both a state Licensed Psychotherapist and a nationally Certified Pastoral Counselor, I offer a comprehensive therapeutic approach which can relate to both the psychological and spiritual dimensions of life’s difficulties .

This web site is a great place to learn about my areas of expertise and to find answers to questions you may have concerning psychotherapy, marriage counseling, couples counseling, and other counseling related issues. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please contact me and I’ll be glad to help.

Serving the people of Central New York since 1978!

Latest Blog Articles

By Rev. Michael Heath

The Coronavirus Blues and Our Obsolete Notions of Retirement.

The Coronavirus Blues and Our Obsolete Notions of Retirement.

The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may not be known for years but, already, one of the unexpected effects that the virus has had on those who have been forced to shelter-in-place or to work from home has been to stir up anxiety about retirement.

Retirement ? Hang on. Let me explain. More than one client has expressed similar difficulties which initially involved work restrictions necessitated by coronavirus but ultimately were rooted in a deeper anxiety caused by an outdated notion of retirement.

Unfortunately, even though major progress has been made in terms of medical care and life-expectancy, our image of what modern retirement can be like lags seriously behind what it has become.

Having realistic expectations about retirement in the 21st century is crucial both to prevent dread and to make the transition successfully.

If you have been anxious thinking about retirement, here are some important facts to consider that may change your understanding of what retirement will involve. To help, here is a summary of a case which illustrates the problem.

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Some Thoughts about Love , Addiction and Obsession.

Some Thoughts about Love , Addiction and Obsession.

Today I want to talk about a common problem which is, unfortunately, unnecessarily experienced by many folks: being “in love” with an abusive or unloving partner. A common misunderstanding present in these kind of destructive situations is a fundamental confusion about the meaning of love, i.e. where sexual thrills or emotional dependency is mistaken for a mature caring and devotion.
In working with individuals and couples for over 40 years, I have heard the word love used in many ways. Indeed, the Greeks had difference words to capture the many shades of meaning this English word can express.
When it comes to relationships, however, I have frequently observed a confusion between eros and agape or between mania and agape. You really can’t blame folks for being confused. To be honest, American notions of love and romance are a mess. They mush together a mixture of selfish and selfless personal experiences. For example, to be in love may mean feeling a powerfully exciting sexual sensation which is aroused by the person with whom one is in love or it may mean a deep and selfless concern for the wellbeing of the person that one loves. Confusing the two can be problematic. When a person thinks that s/he is in love in a mature way but in fact is primarily attracted to a thrilling sensation, or emotionally/literally is dependent on another person, good judgment is corrupted. Here is how to understand the differences.
Modern science has revealed the neurochemical components of Eros . Eros, which is sometimes falsely

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The Surprising Benefits of Adding More Water to your Diet !

The Surprising Benefits of Adding More Water to your Diet !

One of the fundamental assumptions of psychotherapy is that, emotionally, we often confuse one thing for another. For example, a man has problems with his boss and then comes home and takes his anger out on his dog or his wife. That phenomenon is called displacement. Another example is when a person is feeling depressed and so they drink too much to numb the pain. That is called self-medicating the symptom. To effectively resolve hidden issues like anger or depression, the underlying problem must be identified and directly addressed. In these examples, the real issues, the conflict with one’s boss or the source of the person’s depression must be recognized and treated.
Sometimes behavioral problems are assumed to have psychological causes when, in fact, they may also stem from or at least involve medical ones. Overlooking physiological dimensions is sometimes the case with “stress” eating or having difficulties sticking to a diet to lose weight. Research has found that sometimes we confuse preliminary dehydration with feelings of hunger. Sometimes over-eating is associated with stress and anxiety when, in fact, it also is a sign that the body is saying that it needs more water. . If exclusively psychologically-focused efforts to help you stop over-eating or to lose weight have failed , you may want to consider dehydration as a complicating factor. Here is my personal story:
A while back I

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We Need Compassion Now More Than Ever: Four Steps to Increasing Empathy

We Need Compassion Now More Than Ever: Four Steps to Increasing Empathy

Given the heightened level of tension and polarization present in today’s world, empathy is, ironically, the thing which is most needed and in the shortest supply.
Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and care about the feelings of another. It is feeling compassion for someone else. Although neuroscience estimates that 98% of people have the neural capacity for empathy , the current level of societal anger generated by both the hardships imposed by the coronavirus crisis and racial unrest toward police reveals that many folks are not feeling or expressing it. Instead of understanding and compassion, fear and mistrust are keeping us from uniting together against the common threats of Covid-19 and racism.
Apart from the larger cultural and political unrest, empathy is a key ingredient needed in everyday life to help partners , families, friends and colleagues, to get along better and reduce conflicts. The ability to put ourselves in another person’s shoes and experience and discover how another person has many of the same hopes and fears that we do goes a long way towards overcoming mistrust and hostility. Here are four simple steps to help you improve your understanding of and increase your caring about others:

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COVID-19, Boredom and Stress Eating : 7 Tips to help prevent weight gain during the coronavirus crisis.

COVID-19, Boredom and Stress Eating : 7 Tips to help prevent weight gain during the coronavirus crisis.

As restrictions caused by the coronavirus continue and the frustration they have created mount, one of the common casualties reported by many folks is unwanted weight gain. This phenomenon is especially problematic for those who are sheltered-at-home. Changes and restriction in daily customs and work routines has created situations where folks don’t know what to do with large amounts of idle and unstructured time. This over-abundance of unstructured time has resulted in boredom which has in turn has driven many folks to distract and soothe themselves with comfort foods and by binge eating. Likewise, the food’s people are likely to choose for anxiety-based eating , things which are usually loaded with sugar , simple carbs and fats, are not helpful for maintaining a stable weight. Uncontrolled stress-eating combined with reduced activity levels spell trouble for anyone trying to avoid putting one a few pounds.
You get the point. Folks whose lives are normally filled with jobs and other vigorous activities have been caught off guard by the social side effects of COVID-19. The absence of a normal routine and a lack of meaningful stimulation has resulted in people feeling bored. Uncontrolled eating has been what many have relied upon to cope with this unresolved public health crisis.
Nevertheless, it is important to understand that unhealthy weight gain is not inevitable that but preventing it will take some increased awareness and intentional effort. If you are struggling with this issue, here are seven tips to help you resist the impulse to pig-out :

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Is COVID-19 Killing the Romance in your Marriage?  Get Silly and Laugh !

Is COVID-19 Killing the Romance in your Marriage? Get Silly and Laugh !

With more and more people working at home and sheltering, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many couples are spending additional time in physical proximity to one another. This increased togetherness has resulted in many partners taking advantage of the increased opportunity and having more sex.
Unfortunately, for other couples, the forced togetherness has exposed previously avoided problems of intimacy and romance and created some uncomfortable awkwardness.
As a clinician who helps couples have better sex lives, I see the coronavirus crisis as an excellent opportunity to address and fix an embarrassing and discouraging problem.
The good news is that the solution is really fun but doesn’t involve sex at all. The key for many couples to re-ignite the flames of passion is unlocking pent up inhibitions and learning how to get silly . Yes, that is not a typographical error. Increasing silliness in couple is good and allows passion to follow. Let me explain:

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Anger Management

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Couples Counseling

Realistic Expectations

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Recovery from Affairs

Lack of Desire

Sexless Marriage 


Sexual Abuse

Lack of Desire

Separation / Divorce

Parenting Issues

In-law/Family Problems

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