South OC Counseling

Piper Walsh, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist
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Therapy for Children, Adolescents, Adults in South Orange County

Starting Men’s Counseling

Published by . Filed under Individual Counseling, Men's Issues, Therapy for Men. Total of no comments in the discussion.

“I try not to think about my life. I have no life. I need therapy.”
– Keanu Reeves

When some men hear the term “men’s counseling”, what do they imagine? Woody Allen whining to his psychoanalyst? Nick Nolte in Prince of Tides, crying unabashedly over his suicidal sister? Bill Murray as an absolute nut job in What About Bob? Yes. Exactly. This is what and who they think of. Not Clint Eastwood weeping on the couch. Not Bruce Willis telling his therapist about his childhood through his tears. And certainly not Sean Connery getting anywhere NEAR a counselor’s office, much less actually talking to one. Starting men’s counseling drums up all kinds of imagery for some men… and it’s not pretty.

Men Stereotypes

Masculine stereotypes have long held rule over men. These stereotypes have socialized males to believe that to be “men,” they must be strong. Emotionless. Touched by nothing. Impenetrable. Completely self-sufficient. Talk to a complete stranger about my problems? No thank you.

Of course, there are many men in counseling right now. What made it okay for them to go? Perhaps a parent or parents modeling that therapy is a positive, acceptable option. Perhaps a wife or partner asking them to go. Or, in many cases, the pain just got to be too much. But the more traditional males, the ones more concerned with appearing “masculine” and “manly,” – the prospect of counseling just compounds their current state of anxiety, depression, or helplessness.

Therapists are familiar with this resistance and often the very first thing they will do for their new client is to assure them that ALL men have these issues; that they are not alone. This is why so many men gain great comfort from group therapy with other men. They find it a “soft place to land” when issues such as anxiety, stress, anger, and mental health issues such as bipolar disorder or depression become threats to their functionality or quality of life.

After Starting Men’s Counseling

If they find the right kind of counselor at the right time, men often experience great relief, discover tools for a healthier life, and repair broken relationships. The irony here is that men who undergo counseling often discover that it took great courage to do so. James Bond would be proud.

Having Difficulty Ending Unhealthy Habits or Destructive Behaviors?

Published by . Filed under Individual Counseling, Orange County Counseling. Total of no comments in the discussion.

“A habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time.”
Mark Twain

So, you want to end a bad habit. Whether it’s overeating, smoking, gambling, or some other destructive behavior, the issue seems insurmountable. You have tried to curb your indulgences. You have tried going cold turkey OR you have tried to do something regularly such as exercising or eating better. But it never “sticks” and now your health, physical and/or mental, has been compromised. Your close friends and family have pretty much given up hope that things will improve. Why are you having ending difficulty ending unhealthy habits or destructive behaviors?

In order for something to become a habit, it must provide some sort of benefit or reward. In the case of destructive behaviors, the power of the reward overrides the consequences. In a minor example, we all know the allure of the second and third piece of chocolate, despite its sugar and fat content. We push the reality of the consequences for the instant gratification of that luscious, albeit brief experience of chocolate indulgence – the taste, the texture, the little sugar “bump.”

Fortunately, there are several cognitive adjustments you can make to help break the offending habit. Find a different, healthier alternative to the chocolate eating, such as drinking water or tea instead, or having a piece of fruit. If the weight gain from your sweet intake is what is bothering you, replace your cravings with exercise. Every time you feel like going for the sweet, go to the gym or do 25 pushups. Identify what is going on with you emotionally before the craving sets in and face those feelings instead of drowning them in chocolate. And every time you succeed in changing your behavior, congratulate yourself. It’s no small task.

Of course, there are destructive behaviors and unhealthy habits that require more intervention than just simple cognitive behavioral changes. Counseling can assist in identifying the unwanted behaviors and give you the tools to modify them. Contact Piper Walsh about what your options are and how she can help put you on a course to address difficulty ending unhealthy habits.

Marriage Counseling: Working to Resolve Your Differences

Published by . Filed under Marital Counseling, Orange County Counseling. Total of no comments in the discussion.

If you want to improve your relationship, then marriage counseling is an excellent place to start. Communicating with a counselor is the first step in repairing your marriage, and it can make a world of difference in your life as a whole. Choosing to go to an Orange County counselor can be a positive action. By agreeing on this one small decision, marriage counseling, you will be laying down the groundwork for exploring your entire relationship and working to resolve your differences.

During this time of exploration, you may be surprised by some of the topics that arise and by how you and your partner can begin to look at certain issues from a different perspective. Marriage counseling is a healing, trans-formative process that can completely turn around your situation, providing a fresh outlook. When you’re looking for practical solutions that actually work, Dr. Walsh will partner with you to discover the tools that can change your lives.

Marriage counseling is a journey that will assist you in discovering how you can improve your communication style so that life will be easier for both of you. Oftentimes, people carry around unexpressed emotions and resentments that build up over the course of a marriage. Contempt begins to take root, and suddenly people are behaving in ways that aren’t constructive. When couples begin to work with a marriage counselor, they can benefit from her extensive educational background and years of experience dealing with couples from all walks of life.

Not all couples are the same, which is why there is no rigid process put in place for everyone who visits. When you work with Dr. Walsh, you’ll develop your own strategy for success that is customized on your unique needs as a couple. When people begin to work with a marriage counselor, they often get a renewed sense of hope that their relationship has the potential to move forward in a more positive direction.

Marriage can be extremely difficult at times, but counseling allows you to discover new ways of coping with its pressures. Sometimes it’s good to receive new insights about what you can do to start living in a healthy environment once again. This kind of counseling can greatly impact your chances of working out your circumstances in a way that will benefit everyone involved. When the stakes are this high, it’s important to seek guidance from a therapist who always keeps your best interests at heart. Dr. Walsh provides a safe space in which you can communicate and begin working to resolve your differences.

Gaining New Problem-Solving Skills is No Problem

Published by . Filed under Anxiety & Stress, Family Counseling, Individual Counseling, Orange County Counseling. Total of no comments in the discussion.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”
― Albert Einstein

Einstein’s quote highlights two facts: one, if we’re having problems and can’t solve them on our own, we need a new way of thinking; two, we are often somewhat accountable for our problems. (Some may be a bit offended by the latter – of course, this does not apply to certain situations beyond our control such as the deaths of loved ones, terminal illness, or old age.) If you want to gain new problem-solving skills but don’t know how to, a therapist can provide new methods for identifying them, facing them, and gracefully riding them to productive solutions.  Trying to gain new problem-solving skills can help.

Everyone has problems

Some call them “life’s challenges.” Not enough money. Not enough love. Health issues. Intrusive parents. Irresponsible children. An inability to find a job. The list goes on. But problems aren’t the problem; they’re simply a fact of life. It’s our willingness to accept our problems and the manner in which we face them that determine our psychological and physical health. These competencies are called coping skills.

Learning New Problem Skills

No matter how severe or numerous your difficulties are, a qualified therapist can help you unravel the stressful thicket of issues and teach you coping techniques. You will become less avoidant of your challenges; procrastination in problem-solving is akin to throwing gasoline on a fire: it’ll just get worse. You will become more confident as you gain problem-solving skills and therefore more optimistic about your ability to deal with future trials and tribulations. You will also learn to make better decisions going forward. How so? The more adept you are at problem solving, the better you’ll be at sidestepping problems in the first place.

Therapists Can Help

Therapists can also guide clients to develop and implement action plans designed around achieving solutions to problems. An action plan not only helps you identify the exact problem, it also outlines specific, realistic steps you can take to lessen its impact or free you of it. After you implement your action plan, your therapist can also help you evaluate the efficacy of the plan and help you improve it the next time you face a challenge. There are many valuable tools a qualified therapist can impart on your journey to become a problem-solving expert.