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

S.H.I.E.L.D. : Six steps to protect your brain from Alzheimer’s Disease

This is Alzheimer’s awareness day and here is an acronym that everyone should learn: S.H.I.E.L.D.
SH.I.E.L.D. stands for the six things that everyone can do to help protect their brain from this dreaded disease.
In the past research was aimed at protein build-up (plaques and tangles) but the latest thinking is that INFLAMATION is the culprit.
Here are six life-style changes that can help reduce inflammation in the brain and better protect you from Alzheimer’s disease.

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The Absense of Empathy: Psychology’s Take on the Origin of Sin and Evil.

The incessant reports of gun violence has stimulated deeper questions about the very notion of human sin and evil. A recent report in the New York Times interviewed a theologian and a psychiatrist about their understanding of these mysteries. As one who is an ordained minister and also a licensed psychotherapist, I found the discussion fascinating and relevant to modern concerns about why bad things such as mass shootings happen. Further, the dialog provides a good example of the kinds of issues which pastoral counselors address.
In a recent article in the New York Times a theologian and a psychiatrist were asked about their understanding of evil and sin. Specifically, the psychiatrist expressed the widely held view of how modern brain research and psychology understands the concepts of evil and sin. This evolving bio/psycho/social perspective provides a different slant on traditional religious views of evil but, ultimately, is congruent with the fundamental message of biblical beliefs. Here is a look of how science informs and relates to the theological concept of sin.

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First Aid for Anxiety : Part II – Anticipatory Anxiety

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how to employ first-aid for anxiety. In that discussion, the type of anxiety being addressed was the kind which was triggered by a perceived external stressor in the person’s environment, such as a having a difficult conversation with a person or receiving bad or threatening news .
— Today I want to talk about a different kind of anxiety which can also produce intense dysphoric symptoms but which originates in the neo-cortex of the brain and comes from an internal-anticipated threat, rather than an actual or immediate one.
— Rather than relying on physical isolation from the distressing stimulus, a technique which I call Sensational Distraction (SD) can be used to disrupt distract the stressful cascade of thoughts and anxious feelings. With SD a person can shift the focus and attention of their immediate experience from thinking thoughts to perceiving sensations in their body and thus stop the flow of disturbing thoughts and calm the distressed state of mind.
— Although many distractors can be used , an especially effective technique for lessening and stopping anxiety I call the Orange. The orange relies on SD and is the first step, after a person realizes that they are experiencing anticipatory anxiety, calming one’s mind. The technique involves four steps and goes like this:

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Political attempts to blame the mentally Ill for mass shootings is wrong.

I know it has been a couple of weeks since the tragedies in El Paso and Dayton.  I also know that mass shootings have become so frequent that our ability to really comprehend and feel the horror has been saturated beyond human limitations.

That said, it is important, in addition to not giving up or giving in to emotionally accepting gun violence as a fact of life, that we not fall victim to our fatigue or fall prey to bogus political attempts to offer facile explanations for  complex problems.  Likewise, we must be careful not to blame an innocent population for inexplicable horrors. You may have heard some politicians suggest that mental illness is the cause of these mass shootings. Frankly, those who do this simply don’t know what they are talking about and are wrong. Here is why:

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First Aid for Anxiety

Anxiety is a serious and complex problem for many people. In some cases, successful treatment requires a combination of psychotherapy and medication. For many, however, employing some basic first-aid can render significant and immediate relief.
Here are four steps which, if followed, can quickly and dramatically reduce the crippling effects of panic and anxiety attacks.

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Fear, Anger and the Difficulty of Being Vulnerable in Intimate Communication

Intimate communication is a major problem for many marriages. Partners often find it difficult to talk to each other or, that when they do, they feel that what they said is being misunderstood. Specifically, discussions which involve anger or fear are some of the most difficult.
Certainly, learning how to speak in ways which are respectful of one’s partner and are non-attacking is important. However, simply learning to use I-statements is often not enough to enable couples to be able to talk intimately and constructively about their true feelings and desires with one another.
Thus, a major obstacle to good communication, apart from the words we use when we talk, is our state of mind. More specifically, we have a natural fear and aversion to being vulnerable , i.e. emotionally undefended in front of another person.
Nonetheless, only by overcoming these fears can couples achieve truly emotionally intimate communication. Let me explain how this is possible.

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