Setting and Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year where many people are reflecting on the year that has passed and the year that is to come. They look back and analyze successes and failures, and also try to push themselves forward by setting goals. But how beneficial are these New Year’s resolutions?

Setting beneficial goals

Often, people create their resolutions based on their habits – i.e. exercise, eating, social media, smoking, drinking, etc. Whether they want to do more or less of these things isn’t the challenge, but breaking a pattern of a daily habit. So how can you set yourself to have success here? Understanding your decision making; this can either help or hinder your goals.

What is valuable is to first understand what has prevented you in the past from making these changes – what beliefs you have held that stop behavior change. For example: “I want to exercise more” followed by “a gym membership is too expensive,” “There’s no time between work and family.” These are thoughts that allow it to be okay to continue to not exercise, it creates an illusion of valid excuses. Now, of course these things do make it more challenging to exercise – but not impossible.

Finding the right motivation

This is where the importance of having a strong motivator comes in. Maybe you have decided you need to exercise more because your last doctor’s visit didn’t go so well, or you’re finding it harder to find energy for things you enjoy. Changing the thoughts that come after “I want to exercise more” will help with the follow through of these goals. For example, “I don’t have to pay to exercise. I can go for a run or do at-home exercises,” and “I want to be healthier for my family.”

The focus here is to identify the goal and the motivation. This is the foundation of change. You can be successful with your New Year’s resolutions if your incentive is strong enough. If the reason is simply “it’s a new year” that likely won’t be enough – you’ll need to dig a bit deeper than that because likely that strong motivator is just under the surface.

Signs You May Need Couples Therapy

6 Signs Your Relationship May Need Marriage Counseling

There are often common signs you need marriage counseling. Have you found yourself questioning if couples therapy is something you and your partner need? Many couples (married or not) go through this at some point in their relationship. Too often people quickly shy away from the idea because of feelings of shame as well as just not having the right information about what it truly means to be in therapy. Here are a few common signs that couples therapy may be a good fit for you and your partner.

#1 – You find yourselves having the same argument over and over.

When you and your partner keep coming back to the same argument it’s often a sign of a lack of understanding and/or unwillingness to compromise. It can also indicate unresolved emotional hurt and resentment that needs to be addressed. This cycle can be extremely painful and frustrating for couples. Often having an unbiased third party allows the couple to put this in perspective.

#2 – There has been a trauma in the relationship (infidelity, loss, etc.).

In this case, there needs to be an increase in empathy and rebuilding of trust. There is also sometimes a need to reevaluate boundaries within the relationship.

#3 – Issues with communication: lack of talking, negative talk or fear to talk.

I know you’ve heard it before – communication is everything! And while it may not be everything, it certainly is a vital part of any relationship. Communication breakdown has a serious impact on the couples ability to function in the relationship. If you and your partner are finding it increasingly difficult to speak to each other, couples therapy would be a great help. By using specific techniques your therapist can set you and your partner up for success with communication.

#4 – Challenges with intimacy or using affection as currency.

There are many emotional and physical factors that can get in the way of intimacy. Lack of trust, communication difficulties, children, physical changes to the body (menopause, impotence, etc.), and withholding sex as punishment. When any of these or other challenges present themselves it’s helpful to talk to a therapist. Some couples may feel embarrassed or have shame around the topic of sex however it’s a very common issues couples face. Not discussing the topic only enhances the problem!

#5 – Lack of trust with finances.

If you and your partner have different views on how to manage finances and you can’t come to some compromise, therapy will likely be helpful. Your different approaches to managing finances can create larger issues such as hiding money or spending, and therefore mistrust in each other.

#6 – You live as roommates.

You and your partner do not have to have all of the same hobbies and interests however, it is important that you do have shared experiences together and feel engaged with one another. If you find yourselves “living as roommates,” meaning you basically don’t engage with each other at home and feel disconnected, you stay out of each other’s way and don’t talk much, couples therapy will be a good way to address why this has begun and to start finding ways to reconnect with each other.

Marriage Counseling Helps Build Happy Relationships

Relationship or marriage therapy is not about picking apart the couple to find flaws. It is meant to be a tool to help increase awareness and address underlying emotional challenges that impact behavior. In addition, it can help increase the positive behaviors that already exist in the relationship so you and your partner can have a successful and happy relationship.

3 Common Barriers to Behavior Change

3 Barriers Preventing Change

There is a theme that runs constant in therapy; no matter what it is specifically you are struggling with, therapy focuses on what you can do to change. However, the role of a therapist is to reflect to you how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are preventing you from change – not actually make the change for you. Here are three examples of barriers that prevent change from taking place:

  1. “I’ve already changed enough” – Some people feel change is finite – that once you have already made some changes there is no more work to do. However, this is not the way life works! There are always going to be unexpected life events that force change and growth. It is important to be flexible and open-minded in order to be able to cope with new challenges and grow.

2. “I can’t” – Negative self-talk is one of the biggest ways to keep yourself stuck. If you start to pay attention to your thoughts and notice a lot of negativity – you are probably keeping yourself from change. If you catch yourself saying “I can’t”, try and balance the thought out with something positive – remind yourself of something you can do or something you feel good about!

3. “It’s happening to me” – This is the idea that change is out of your control. When it comes to how OTHER people behave – you would be right! No one can control what someone else does, however you can control or change how you respond to these people. You have full control and responsibility over your behaviors. So, if you are finding that you are placing blame outside of yourself, do a bit more reflection and think about what is possible for you to do differently in the situation.

It may be time to learn how therapy can help you change.

These are just a few examples of how you may be preventing your own change and growth. Always remind yourself that you are capable of change as long as you want it and are motivated! The reasons may vary, and what holds you back may be deep rooted, but anything is possible when you are honest with yourself.

5 Ways to Deal with Anxiety

Quick Tips for Coping with Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the most common psychological disorders and it also happens to be one of the most detrimental. Anxiety causes emotional, mental, and physical stress on the people it affects. Of course, everyone experiences anxiety to some degree – it doesn’t mean you have a diagnosis like Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Social Anxiety. So, whether you have a chronic issue or have just had moments of anxiety in your life, here are some helpful tips to coping with anxiety when it comes up.

1. Breathe

Learning some breathing techniques can be extremely helpful in regulating the physical effects of anxiety on the body. Deep slow breathes (6 count in and 8 count out) not only changes how your body is functioning but it also distracts the mind a bit to focusing on breath and away from the anxious thoughts.

2. Acceptance/Remember that it’s temporary

Accept that you are having an anxiety attack. The more you try to think your way out of it the more anxious you can become. Embracing the moment for what it is and reminding yourself that this will not last forever will be calming. Our bodies cannot physically stay in this state for too long – eventually we will exhaust and calm down.

3. Focus on right now – avoid future projection

Stay in the present moment as much as possible – the previous 2 tips will help with this. Avoid thoughts around the future and what may/could happen as these are anxiety inducing.

4. Positive self-talk

This is somewhat self-explanatory. Talk to yourself – out loud if you want! And say positive things, for example: “I am okay” “I am strong” “I am capable of coping with this.”

5. Question yourself

Using questioning thoughts can help combat the anxiety. If we think about the evolution of anxiety and fear – it was once (and still is) a very important reaction to something threatening (i.e. caveman threatened by an animal that could injure them). It’s how we learned to avoid potentially harmful or life threatening circumstances. However, with the advancements of our society – anxiety became channeled towards things that are not necessarily threatening to us (from anxiety in social settings to anxiety of public speaking). So, it’s important to question yourself when you are experiencing anxiety. For example: “Is this worry realistic?” “Is my worry likely to happen?” “If the worst possible outcome were to happen, what would be so bad about it?”

Using these strategies can be life changing when dealing with anxiety and learning to cope. You cannot always control what you’re going to feel anxious about or when an anxiety attack comes on – however, you can do something about it when you feel that way. Not allowing anxiety to prevent you from new experiences is an opportunity for personal growth.

How Our Devices Are Impacting Our Relationships and What You Can Do About It

Disconnect between couples, emotionally, physically, and mentally is something I see frequently in my practice. When technology is affecting relationships there is often clear distress between the couple. They discuss what they would like their partners to do more of to help feel connected. While this is a necessary part of reconnecting, I find that couples often avoid the concept of removing items or distractions that contribute to this disconnect from their lives. Not surprisingly, smartphones and other electronic devices are the most popular distractions of choice!

Some effects of these distractions on our everyday lives are: a lack of mindfulness, lack of communication, and stress and separation anxiety. All of these side effects contribute to disconnect from our partners. So, if you are interested in enhancing your relationship and improving your connection with your partner, here are some tips I often suggest to my clients:

4 Ways to Prevent Technology From Impacting Your Relationship

Negative Effects Of Technology On Relationships1. Have a device-free hour
Okay…so if you think you might go through some withdrawals during that hour and it feels overwhelming, start with 20 minutes and gradually build up to an hour. This isn’t meant to be anxiety-inducing, but a positive time for you and your partner (or family) to put the phones and electronics away and have some quality time.

2. Turn off the notifications a half-hour before bedtime
This will help create a positive bedtime routine for you and your partner, which can also greatly improve intimacy and feeling connected. Additionally, the combination of being stimulated by the phone and the potential of it waking you up throughout the night has negative impacts on sleep – so turning off the notifications can also improve your sleep!

3. Find an activity to do together
Binge watching Game of Thrones doesn’t count – sorry! Once a week, choose an activity that you enjoy doing together, and make time for it. Some examples are cooking, exercising, going for a walk, or going to a museum.

4. Become present
Lack of mindfulness is one of the big impacts of using our smartphones. Have you ever had that moment where you think “how did I get here?” despite having been walking down the city streets for about 10 minutes? Or, “what did my partner just say?” There are different techniques you can do (besides putting the phone down) to become more present. One great option is incorporating a meditation practice into your life – there are some great guided meditations for beginners. Some other methods you can do is focus on your breathing or other sensations in your body; you can also take a moment to take in your surroundings – what are you hearing, seeing, smelling, etc. Becoming present and mindful is not only useful for you to become more connected with your partner, but maybe even more importantly, you become more connected to yourself.

What I would suggest is starting with one of these four tips. Once you feel you’ve been able to successfully incorporate one into your routine, then add another, and so on. It’s easy to get caught up in our day to day and sucked into our devices but taking that extra effort to disconnect from our electronics and connect with our partners can make all the difference for a happy and healthy relationship.

How Intentional Is Your Relationship?









In a city like New York it is often easy to make choices out of convenience and financial savings – we can get our groceries delivered and we no longer even have to hail down a cab. And sometimes we even choose to live with our significant others just to save on rent. We look at the factors – we live in the same city, we spend 3-4 nights a week together, we can save some money – why not live together? This type of decision making is called “sliding” as termed by Dr. Scott Stanley.

Dr. Stanley’s research focused on how a couple makes decisions impacts their commitment and happiness. His findings suggest that couples who make intentional decisions about major life transitions rather than going with the flow or “sliding” into decisions have happier marriages.

Some of the common major transitions include moving in together, getting married, and having children. These are all exciting and happy events and it’s easy to get caught up in wanting to move forward and forgetting to sit down and have a conversation with your partner about what it means and what your expectations are. Making time for these conversations can help promote healthy communication around potentially challenging topics and as Dr. Stanley found, have a positive impact on the longevity and happiness of the relationship.

So, rather than choosing to save on rent, decide to progress your relationship because you’ve talked with your partner and have set intentions for your future.

Gary D. Chapman’s The Five Love Languages

When I sit with a couple, what I often see is disconnect in how they are showing and receiving love, which they end up interpreting as a LACK of love in one another. I typically refer to Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages when I see this happening. Exploring their love languages and understanding their partner’s can help to enhance a loving relationship. This can improve feelings of emotional intimacy and connectedness. Read the quick explanations of each love language below and see if you relate to one or more!

  1. Words of Affirmation – This person’s language centers around praise and appreciation. Small compliments such as “thanks for working so hard” is one example.
  2. Acts of Service – If you’ve ever heard the phrase “actions speak louder than words”, that rings most true to people who receive love with this language. This can be as small as doing the dishes or as big as taking the kids and letting your partner have the night “off.”
  3. Receiving Gifts – This is pretty straight forward. This person feels special and loved when they receive gifts. Maybe you can’t buy jewelry every week for your partner, but picking up their favorite dessert or surprising them with flowers can make all the difference.
  4. Quality Time – This language focuses on spending time with each other and giving UNDIVIDED attention. I highlight that word because it is important! When you are married or living with your partner you may see them every day, but you lack actually spending quality time. This can be making the effort to turn off the TV/cellphones/devices during dinner and talking to each other without distraction.
  5. Physical Touch – This person experiences love through physical touch. This comes in many forms such as sexual intercourse, hand holding, embracing, or even a small caress while walking past your loved one. We form bonds with other people, not just our partners, through physical touch. Think of holding a baby to bond with them before they understand verbal language. To explore more about the 5 Love Languages and to take a short questionnaire to help you find out your language go to: 5 Love Languages

Single in the City?

A recent article by Psychology Today: Why You’re Lucky to Be Single and Seeking Love explores how being able to focus on personal growth while single increases the chances you will choose a partner that is better fit for you. I am a big believer in this. When you start working on your own personal growth and embrace your unique qualities, you open yourself up to great opportunities – with romantic love and other opportunities!

Support Group for Families of Addicts Facilitated By: Emily Eyerman, LMFT


Join me for a 4-week group focused on support and psycheducation for those with loved ones addicted to substances.

When: Beginning October 13th, 2014 from 7:00-8:00 PM

Week One: Introductions. What is addiction & how does it impact the family?
Week Two: Healthy vs. Unhealthy Boundaries
Week Three: Self Care and Caring for the Addict
Week Four: Pulling it all together in a plan

Please contact Emily Eyerman at [email protected]
Cost: $200.00 for all 4 sessions
Space is limited.

Why Talk-Therapy?

I recently read a Forbes article called “11 Intriguing Reasons to Give Talk Therapy a Try.” I found the article to be very interesting and informative about the benefits of talk-therapy. It first addressed a common misconception that only “crazy” people go to therapy. However, it’s actually the people who seek out therapy that tend to be more stable. If someone is able to identify that they are struggling, they are in a better position to fix it. In fact, when people repress their negative feelings, they typically end up with a variety of issues both physical and emotional, depression being the prime example.

The following are the 11 reasons the article listed:

1. Therapy’s effects persist over the long-haul.

2. Physical symptoms get treated, too.

3. Repressed emotions will come back to haunt you later on.

4. And the passive-aggressive shtick will fade away.

5. It will give you a while new perspective on other people, too.

6. It helps you deal with future curve balls.

7. Talking about things give them shape.

8. You know you’re not alone.

9. It will rewire your brain.

10. You won’t have to self-medicate anymore.

11. It enables you to teach the next generation a better way.


To summarize, I feel that the article’s goal was to educate people on what therapy can offer. If people are motivated and engaged in the therapy process, it will be an experience that will be with them for the rest of their lives. Talk-therapy has the ability to help people cope with their past, and in turn, will help them deal with challenges in the future. It becomes easier to cope with the hiccups in life when internal work has been done to help alleviate the emotional pain. The use of talk-therapy to gain self-awareness can help people in their relationships with themselves and with the important people in their lives.

For more details about each of the reasons listed above, click HERE.

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