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!

Sex in Marriage : Are You having Enough ?  

 

I'm not clear how many people are worried that they are not having enough sex but I do know from clinical experience that many tend become discouraged in their relationships and give up on sex . 

-- Research shows that folks who have sex at least once a week are happier than folks who don't. That is a correlative statistic, not a causal connection however.  It is not clear if having sex makes you happier or if happier people have more sex.

-- My concern is not with how much sex couples have but that sex is respected as an essential part of their relationship.  Like noted sex educator and Syracuse University professor Sol Gordon used to say, “Sex isn’t the most important thing in marriage but it’s in the top ten!”   

-- If couple has gone months without physical intimacy for no obvious reason (e.g. health problems or physical separation), this absence is a clinically important

symptom and could signal significant problems of either medical, psychological or relational nature.

-- It is unfortunate that because immature attitudes, many partners are embarrassed to talk about medical issues which involve sex. Ironically, there are effective treatments for most sexual dysfunction issues for both men and women.  Although publicity concerning Viagra like medications has helped many to get over the aversion to seeking medical help there are those who still avoid getting help and suffer unnecessarily.

--  In addition to physical disorders, anxiety and depression can also rob a person of passion and sexual interest. Likewise , normal emotions like anger and resentment can create obstacles in a relationship which can suppress libido and kill desire.  Rather than simply accepting the passionless situation, it is important for couples to know that  professional help can provide dramatic results and restore lost intimacy and joy.   

-- How often folks have sex varies a lot depending on many variables such as health, busy schedules, stress, etc. And … the amount of sex does not necessarily indicate the overall level of satisfaction in a marriage or in the sex itself.

-- That said, I think it is important for couples to acknowledge the importance of sex and make sure that sex does not get pushed aside because of overloaded schedules, stress or fatigue.

-- Although spontaneous encounters are great, the demands of work and family can make opportunities few and far between. Thus, couples need to become intentional about sex by blocking out time on their calendar and protecting those commitments. Planning romantic rendezvous is a good way to make sure that that the fire in your marriage will not dim or go out.

-- Some couples react to the idea of scheduling sex with skepticism, i.e. that isn't romantic. However those who are willing to try it report that not only is it very romantic but that the "dates" are something to look forward to with excitement and eager anticipation.       

Rev. Michael Heath LMHC, Fellow A.A.P.C.  5 18 2016

http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/11/health/sex-frequency-happiness-research/

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Updating the Image of Psychotherapist: A Life-Tour Guide

 


May is Mental Health Awareness month and given the many unfortunate impressions of therapy and therapist that are out there, this is a good time to sort out fact from fiction.

 

As I mentioned before, one common misconception is that a therapist is someone who will "straighten" you out. That false image comes from psychiatry itself. For a long time, psychiatry used the orthodontic metaphor of straightening to convey what a therapist does to heal the disordered mind. Even today there is a leading professional journal named Ortho-Psychiatry. The Greek term ortho which means to straighten, conveys the notion that emotional problems are like crooked teeth i.e. something in a person's mind has come out of alignment and needs to forcibly "straightened out".

 

Certainly the traumatic events of childhood warp and distort our perceptions and responses to life and cause us to have exaggerated and irrational thoughts, feelings and reactions. Those distortions do need to be identified and corrected so that one may once again accurately perceive and rationally respond to the challenges one encounters in life.

 

While the straightening image conveys some truth, in other ways, it is essentially false.  Even worse,  it gives folks the wrong idea about what therapy really is. Who wants to be forced into changing by another person?

 

Applying the orthodontic metaphor to psychotherapy, i.e. of pushing a person’s thoughts and feelings back into alignment, expressed a world view from a bygone era and is not reflective of how our own culture places a high value on self-determination and individual freedom. Healing and change are the results of a client's own discovery and effort made as s/he works with the therapist and not because of the action of the therapist or treatment alone.


In a previous post, I suggested the idea of therapist as pilot. Another, helpful metaphor for conveying what psychotherapy is and what a psychotherapist actually does is a guide who takes the client on a tour of his/her life. Therapy is the process which allows the client to see his/her life from a different view and see hid/her problems from a larger perspective.


The therapist points out the relative relationships and historical connections of various aspects and events of the person's life and places various behavioral patterns in the context of how they have developed. Learning how a person's present differs from his/her original context helps explain how patterns that once made sense no longer fit the client's present situation. This expanded awareness can, in turn, help clients to make needed changes in their response patterns.

 

The chief function of psychotherapy is to help folks to change their perspective which allows them to change their experience and behavior. Increased awareness of life patterns and unrecognized resources allows clients to experience life more positively and cope with challenges more effectively.


The healing self-discovery is not imposed on the person by the therapist.  The "ah ha" moment is accomplished by the person's willingness to explore and see how things appear from a different and elevated perspective.

 

It is important that folks who are struggling with emotional and behavior issues know that the process of therapy is one in which they are in control and that the therapist is there to assist but not to force any belief or change. You can learn a lot from a tour guide but, ultimately, it is the way each person appropriates the new knowledge that results in lasting change.

Rev. Michael Heath 5 7 2016

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Updating the Image of Psychotherapist: From Orthodontist to Helicopter Pilot  

 

 
When people think about psychotherapy , there is a common image  that comes to mind that is off putting and misleading.  For a long time, psychiatry has used the orthodontic metaphor of straightening to convey what it does.
 
For example , there is a leading professional journal named Ortho-Psychiatry.  The Greek term which means to straighten, conveys the notion that emotional problems are like crooked teeth i.e. something in a person's mind has become misshapen and needs to "straightened out".
 
While this image conveys some truth, in other ways it is false . Certainly the traumatic events of childhood warp and distort our perceptions and responses to life  and cause us to have exaggerated and irrational thoughts, feelings and reactions.  Those distortions need  to be identified and removed (straightened)  so that one may once again accurately perceive and rationally respond to the challenges one encounters in life.
 
That said, the actual process of "straightening" associated with the dentistry and the forcing teeth back into alignment is very misleading.  Specifically, the metaphor of therapist as a dentist and therapy  exaggerates the role of the therapist on one hand, and grossly minimizes the role that self-discovery by the client on the other.  Healing and change are the results of a client's own discovery and effort made as s/he works with the therapist and not because of the action of the therapist alone.      
 
Perhaps better metaphors for conveying what psychotherapy is and what a psychotherapist actually does  are a helicopter  and a pilot -- where the client is the co-pilot.  Therapy is the vehicle that lifts the client up to be able to get a different , "aerial" view of his life and see her problems from a larger perspective. The therapist is the pilot who points out the relative relationships and historical connections of various aspects and events of the client's life and how they relate to the particular issue with which the person is struggling.
 
The chief function of psychotherapy is to help a folks to change their perspective which in turn allows them to change their  experience and behavior. Increased  awareness of life patterns and unrecognized resources allows clients to experience life more positively and  cope with challenges more effectively.
 
The healing self-discovery is not imposed on the person by the therapist nor is it forcibly resisted.  The "ah hah" moment  is accomplished by the person's willingness to explore and look and see how different things appear from a different and elevated perspective.  More later ...
 
Rev. Michael Heath       4 29 2016
 
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Spring Cleaning for your Marriage
 
Although it has felt like winter lately, Spring is here and with it comes the annual rituals of spring cleaning. Milder weather is the perfect time to spruce things up and to fix the things that have broken and fallen into disrepair throughout the year. Likewise  it is satisfying to toss out the unnecessary junk that has accumulated over the months. 
 
We know that even if it's no fun, regular household maintenance is necessary to keep problems from becoming too big or too costly as well as to keep things looking good and working well.  So, it's important to take some time and make a special effort keep our surroundings in tip top shape.
 
Although we don't think of marriage the same way we do a house or a lawn mower, intimate relationships  have the same maintenance needs as a home or a piece of machinery and require the same kind of care to keep things running smoothly. 
 
Just like with your house, problems develop over time which can be ignored or avoided. For many busy couples, it is easy to neglect things like romance or personal appearance.  Likewise, over the years, annoying personal habits can grow into inconsiderate sources of irritation. Taking some time to talk about the problems while they are small is a good way to prevent them from becoming big and unmanageable.
 
It is encouraging to realize just how little effort it actually takes to plan date nights or to give your wardrobe a new coat of paint. Likewise, just understanding that good and lasting relationships just don’t happen but require ongoing care, will help you to pay attention and make the extra effort to communicate with and be considerate of your mate.
 
So, how long has it been since you and your spouse have done a little marital spring cleaning ?  It is never too late to start.  Developing this ritual for your marriage is an important part of regular relationship maintenance and is easy to do.  A little spring cleaning can pay off in big dividends and ensure that you and your mate a have a long and satisfying life together ! 
Rev. Michael Heath   4 12 2016

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Watch Rev. Heath's Bridge Street Mental Health segments below:


May 18, 2016

Sex in Marriage : Are You having Enough ?

 



 

I'm not clear how many people are worried that they are not having enough sex but I do know from clinical experience that many tend become discouraged in their relationships and give up on sex . 

-- Research shows that folks who have sex at least once a week are happier than folks who don't. That is a correlative statistic, not a causal connection however.  It is not clear if having sex makes you happier or if happier people have more sex.

-- My concern is not with how much sex couples have but that sex is respected as an essential part of their relationship.  Like noted sex educator and Syracuse University professor Sol Gordon used to say, “Sex isn’t the most important thing in marriage but it’s in the top ten!”   

-- If couple has gone months without physical intimacy for no obvious reason (e.g. health problems or physical separation), this absence is a clinically important

symptom and could signal significant problems of either medical, psychological or relational nature.

-- It is unfortunate that because immature attitudes, many partners are embarrassed to talk about me…
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