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Mary-Michael is pleased to share two of her articles.

      What is Counseling? is an explanation of the reasons for and process of counseling.
      A Message To Families emphasizes the importance of family togetherness.

For answers to specific questions, please be sure to see Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What Is Counseling?

By Mary-Michael Levitt, Ed.S., LPC, LMFT

So often clients are faced with an unexpected crisis or emergency and are left to fend for themselves, until someone recommends that counseling is available to help them through their immediate situation. The question arises "How can counseling help me now?" "What can counseling do that I can't do for myself?"

First let's examine what might bring a person to consider counseling. Any life situation such as the loss of a loved one, a child in trouble at school, a marital affair or domestic abuse, loss of employment/ financial distress, a family member abusing alcohol or drugs or suffering from an eating disorder, separation/divorce, parenting stress or any situation that results in overwhelming feelings of depression or anxiety. Counseling is recommended when a person is not able to feel the joy of their life, take care of themselves emotionally and spiritually, or cope with the crisis or emergency without support. Clients may need assistance making the transition to college, learn more about maintaining healthy relationships, make career choices or learn more about stress management.

The process of counseling begins when the counselor cultivates a relationship with the client based on trust and confidentiality. In this secure environment the counselor and client develop an understanding of the stressful issues facing the client, explore and determine strategies designed to help the client and cooperatively engage in a dialogue that will restore confidence to the client in managing the issues at hand. Counseling helps people who are experiencing difficulties in life that cannot be remedied with out the caring support and professional guidance in problem solving that the counselor can provide. Clients who find themselves in need of counseling can be in a vulnerable state and need to be reassured that their situation can be improved by discussing a host of possible solutions and engaging in a plan of action. Counseling is successful when the client is no longer confused about what to do and is restored to a foundation where their life is meaningful and the presenting problem is now manageable.

A Message To Families

By Mary-Michael Levitt, Ed.S., LPC, LMFT

Families are struggling with complicated social and cultural issues which have broadened the generation gap and left members feeling anxious, confused and uncertain. Parents used to enjoy introducing their children to a rich culture, now they try to protect them from a technology and media culture that socializes their children in ways that conflict with their own family values. Families are under pressure to have more influence on shaping their children's future with positive, meaningful and sustaining experiences.

Our family system has lost access to neighborhoods, extended family, playtime and a sense of community. Mom and Dad are split between balancing employment schedules which include longer hours and increased travel time, their children's athletic competition schedules, household responsibilities, that leave them exhausted and distant. The fact is the culture and society has changed so rapidly everyone is racing just to keep up.

While families benefit from the advances in technology, they need to adjust to those changes in order to maintain a consistent sense of togetherness and kinship. As the culture becomes more frightening, the parents become more anxious to protect their children. The dilemma of providing more structured parenting to a generation that has grown more independent and unfazed by parental restrictions is indeed a daunting task.

However, research shows that making some simple and manageable adjustments to family life has led to far reaching success in maintaining a cohesive sense of family.

The main culprit, which is only a click away, is the TV. Researchers all agree that the visual impact of having a TV on when family members are congregated in one room, takes away from the level of closeness those members can experience together at that given time. TV used to be close family time when there was only one TV in the home and everyone gathered for that weekly show to relax and enjoy. Not any more, TV is now background noise that has to be talked over. Experiments with families where they have committed to turning off the TV for one month proved that measures of closeness and enjoyment of each other's company increased as families looked to ways to fill that TV time. Couples reported their communication improved once the TV had been turned off during crucial quiet times such as before sleep and during and after dinner.

Try This Family Experiment:

Agree to watch one hour of TV per night. If the family cannot agree the TV will have to stay off.

Observe the family process and talk it through.

Recommended Reading

The Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding Our Families by Mary Pipher, Ph.D
A Grosset/Putman Book 1996
Find at your local Library

A frank discussion about what families need to thrive, succeed and nurture its members.

Mary offers an honest and well researched overview of contemporary families and the issues they face. The Shelter of Each Other... concentrates on understanding the demands facing families today and how to preserve a cohesive healthy family unit. Her passion on the behalf of rebuilding the family as the backbone of society speaks volumes of meaning and wisdom.

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