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

When Expectations Don’t Work Out.

Expectations. We all have them, that is to say we all have a sense of what is going to happen in our lives. We have routines which we follow and much of our life is predictable. Part of life, however, is unpredictable and folks who naively or uncritically assume outcomes without sufficient reason can be shocked and sadly disappointed.
Indeed, unrealistic expectations or expectations that are not met are a major source of distress in life. The spectrum of disappointment is wide and ranges from trivial things like a sports team losing a game or running into a long line at the bank all the way to a life-crisis event like losing a job or being told that one has a serious disease.
There are lots of events in the middle, however, which, while not serious with a capital S, nonetheless, create inconvenience or worse. Being caught off guard by these kinds of life events is not only frustrating but an situation which can trigger an anger reaction causes us to act out in ways that are socially disruptive and unpleasant for everyone involved. Indeed, being shocked by unexpected happenings is one of the biggest causes of unpleasant outbursts of anger.
Today, we are going to look at how to 1) recognize amygdala-based reactions which often result from unrealistic or unmet expectations, 2) how to calm and reality-test panicked perceptions which generates anger outbursts and 3) how to problem-solve your way to more rational responses to negative and unexpected life events.

read more

Understanding and Coping with “Controlling” People.

Many have commented about the coarsening of our society and the decline of basic civility in politics and in every day life. Psychologically, this change in public decorum correlates with the complexification of life and a greatly reduced sense of control that people experience over there own lives.
Nowhere is the loss of control more painfully experienced than in intimate relationships and marriage. Indeed, one of the most common complaints of couples is that they feel that their partner is too “controlling”. Here are some important facts about our needs for control and some tips for dealing with controlling people:
1) No one has the right to try to control their partner.
2) Attempts to control are signs of anxiety and panic.
3) When in a state of panic, a person is not in touch with their cortex and thus he/she can not think reasonably.
4) It is not helpful or productive to attempt to struggle with someone who is in a panicked state.
5) Only when the experience of anxiety has been lowered can a productive conversation and respectful negotiations to reach mutually agreeable solutions take place .

read more

How Breathing and the “Tupperware” techniques can help to control anger.

Violent and uncontrolled expressions of anger are some of the most threatening emotional, social and cultural issues plaguing our society. One of the especially frustrating aspects of anger is its explosive nature which may erupt without warning.
Although it takes practice, a helpful skill to acquire to control the raw acting out of anger feelings is to delay the urge to immediately discharge the impulse . Using the mental image of a Tupperware container , along with breathing exercises, is an effective way to defer the immediate and unfiltered release of anger impulses and to allow time for a more reasonable response to be made . Here is how they work together to give you more control.

read more

Rethinking the language of mental illness: From nuts and crazy to irrational and disordered.

Recently, a husband in a counseling session turned and asked me to tell his wife that she was crazy. In declining to do so I asked if he could tell me what he was feeling when he made his request. He responded by saying that he felt exasperated. Indeed , sometimes we hurl words like nuts or crazy when we are frustrated and don’t know what else to do. When we feel powerless, name-calling is sometimes the only thing we can think of to do. That’s because cutting remarks about the other person makes them appear smaller and makes us feel better .
Apart from the session, it got me to thinking about how his comment , in addition to being hurtful, is a sign that, despite all that we have learned and despite all the progress that we have made, that we still have a long way to go to get beyond the fear and stigma attached to mental health issues.
Part of the prejudice stems from ignorance and a gross misunderstanding of psychological disorders. This confusion has been and continues to be perpetuated, in part, by the common usage of antiquated and misleading terms such as “crazy” and “nuts”.
Today, let’s explore the linguistic origins these hurtful anachronisms and consider better alternatives to use when discussing mental health issues.

read more

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.

read more

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.

read more

For more articles, visit our Blog archive.

If you’re having trouble with…

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Addiction
  • PTSD
  • Sexuality
  • Separation / Divorce
  • Grieving & Loss
  • Pornography
  • Love & Attraction
  • Spirituality
  • Modern Culture
  • Stress & Coping
  • Weight Loss
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • OCD
  • Anger Management
  • Self Esteem
  • Assertiveness
  • ADHD
  • Alcohol and Substance Abuse
  • Communication
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Sex
  • Lack of Desire
  • Affairs
  • In-laws

Blog & Video Archives

Click here for my recent and past Mental Health postings.