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

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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Frequently Asked Questions about Tele-Therapy .

Frequently Asked Questions about Tele-Therapy .

It’s been almost two months since all counseling here in New York State has been conducted via tele-therapy , i.e. over either a telephone or a video platform.

At first, speaking with your counselor in this way may seem artificial or odd, but my experience and the experience of many others has been that, with a little practice, it becomes quite natural and normal.

While remote counseling is not new,, ( I first provided Skype style sessions for military families with deployed members almost twenty years ago), many folks don’t know much about it.

So , if you have been considering getting some counseling but have been reluctant due to this different format, here are some frequently asked questions and answers about tele-therapy to help you understand it and feel more comfortable with it.

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Understanding and Overcoming the Self-Blame and Shame of Sexual Abuse

Understanding and Overcoming the Self-Blame and Shame of Sexual Abuse

Okay , my apologies for not posting earlier about this. With all the attention given to and disruptions caused by COVID-19, I almost neglected to acknowledge that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

That said , I want to address a serious two headed problem faced by many who have been sexually assaulted: Shame and Self-Blame. Too often, even after many years have passed, many folks who have experienced sexual assault as children say that, even though they “know better”, they still can’t shake the feeling deep down inside that what happened was their fault.

It is important to understand that self-recrimination is a common psychological phenomenon experienced by many who have been abused. The good news is that, once understood, individuals can break its depressing hold and free themselves from this false sense of guilt and responsibility . Let me show you how.

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Lessons from Job for Families Dealing with Anger Issues  while Sheltering-in-Place.

Lessons from Job for Families Dealing with Anger Issues while Sheltering-in-Place.

As the Covid-19 crisis drags on and the isolation restrictions take their emotional toll, how to deal with increased irritability and anger is one of the of the most commonly asked questions by many cooped-up couples and families.

For me, both as a pastoral counselor and a psychotherapist, The Bible is filled with stories which can help us in times such as these. The Old Testament book of Job offers some especially valuable guidance.
What is remarkable about Job’s anger is how it is expressed and where it is directed . Unlike most of us when we get mad, Job did not externalize or displace his frustrations onto others or God. He did not become verbally abusive or name-call nor did he blame or make excuses. What he did in perfect I-statement form, was to talk about his experience and his pain and what he wanted.
Applying this illustrative story to our situation, here are the key points to remember about Job’s model for dealing with anger and frustrations while living in cramped quarters and restricted circumstances:

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