May 18 2017

John Gottman Relationship Scales: Evaluate Your Relationship Here

If you are interested in thinking about the strengths and vulnerabilities of your relationship, here is a survey for you to explore.

1.    Staying emotionally connected ___, or becoming emotionally distant___

Check all items below:

  • Just simply talking to one another.     Not a problem___     A problem___
  • Staying emotionally in touch with each other.   Not a problem___     A problem___
  • Feeling taken for granted?    Not a problem___     A problem___
  • Don’t feel like my partner knows me very well right now.  Not a problem___A problem___
  • Partner is (or I am) emotionally disengaged.         Not a problem___     A problem___
  • Spending time together.   Not a problem___     A problem___

2.    Handling  job and other stresses effectively____, or experiencing the “spill over” of non-relationship issues

Check all items below:

  • Helping each other reduce daily stresses     Not a problem___     A problem___
  •     Talking about these stresses together    Not a problem___     A problem___
  • Talking together about stress in a helpful manner   Not a problem___     A problem___
  • Partner listening with understanding about my stresses and worries  Not a problem___     A problem___
  • Partner takes job or other stresses out on me   Not a problem___     A problem___
  • Partner takes job stresses out on the children or others in our life   Not a problem___     A problem___


3.    Handling issues or disagreements well ___, or gridlocking on one or more issues____

Check all items below:

  • Differences  have arisen between us that seem very basic   Not a problem___     A problem___
  • These differences seem unresolvable    Not a problem___     A problem___
  • We are living day to day with hurts      Not a problem___     A problem___
  • Our positions are getting entrenched     Not a problem___     A problem___
  • It looks like I will never get what I hoped for    Not a problem___     A problem___
  • I am very worried that these issues may damage our relationship   Not a problem___     A problem___


4. The marriage is romantic and passionate___, or the it is becoming passionless; the fire has gone out____

Check all the items below:

  • My partner has stopped being verbally affectionate.     Not a problem___    A problem___
  • My partner expresses love and admiration less frequently.  Not a problem___ A problem___
  • We rarely touch each other.  Not a problem___     A problem___
  • My partner (or I) have stoped feeling very romantic. Not a problem___ A problem___
  • We rarely cuddle.   Not a problem___ A problem___
  • We have few tender or passionate moments.       Not a problem___ A problem___

5.    Our sex life is fine_____, or there are problems in this area____

Check all the items below:

  • The frequency of sex.        Not a problem___ A problem___
  • The satisfaction I or my partner get from sex.     Not a problem___ A problem___
  • Being able to talk about sexual problems.    Not a problem___ A problem___
  • The two of us wanting different things sexually.   Not a problem___ A problem___
  • Problems of desire.     Not a problem___ A problem___
  • The amount of love in our lovemaking.    Not a problem___ A problem___

6. An important event (like the birth of a child, job loss, changes in job, or residence, an illness, the death of a loved one) has occurred in our lives_____. The relationship is dealing with this well____, or it is not___.

Check all items below:

  • We have very different points of view on how to handle things.
  • This event has led my partner to be very distant.
  • This event has made us both irritable.
  • This event has led to a lot of fighting.
  • I’m worried about how this will turn out.
  • We are now taking up very different positions.


7. Major issues about children have arisen (this could be about whether or not to have a child).____ The relationship is handling these well_____, or it is not_____.

Check all items below:

  • We have very different points of view on goals for the children.
  • We have different positions on what to discipline the children for.
  • We have different positions on how to discipline the children.
  • We have issues about how to be close to our children.
  • We are not talking about these issues very well.
  • There is a lot of tension or anger about these issues.



8. Major issues or events have arisen about in-laws, a relative, or relatives._____The relationship is handling these well_____, or it is not_____.

Check all items below:

  • I feel unaccepted by my partner’s family.
  • I sometimes wonder which family my partner is in.
  • I feel unaccepted by my own family.
  • There is tension between us and what might happen.
  • This issue has generated a lot of irritability.
  • I am worried about how this is going to turn out.

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May 16 2017

Victories of the Heart Breakthrough Weekend Research by Josiah James Miller: Highly Recommended Reading!

Psychologist Josiah James Miller evaluated the Victories of the Heart Breakthrough weekend as his dissertation for his doctorate. It was recently published online and is a treasure trove of ideas helpful to the Victories organization. You can read the dissertation here.

by Miller, Josiah James, Psy.D., The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, 2017, 119; 10159295

I have read the study a few times and think it’s an excellent contribution to the evolution of men’s social movements and the origins of personal growth weekends for men.

Dr. Miller dissertation evaluates several quantitative factors related to the Breakthrough experience, such as the effect on the levels of gender role conflict, perceived social support and psychological well-being in men who attended the retreat.

His study also explores and elaborates on the qualitative experience of participants. Having been a leader of this weekend and volunteer for many years, I understand how meaningful the experience can be, so the excellent qualitative reports by participants was no surprise at all.

Dr. Miller also raises important questions for the Victories organization to consider as they evaluate this program and make plans for their organization’s future.

Kudos to Dr. Miller and the Victories stakeholders to allow a program to be evaluated and the results published online so all those interested can read and learn.

For those interested in the history and methods of men’s programs, this evaluation is very much worth reading.

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Mar 18 2017

Obamacare 2017: 10 Talking Points for Advocacy

I. Introduction

I’m writing for my family, friends and the public to advocate for Obamacare.

Right now, it seems the Senate will vote against the repeal and replacement legislation proposed by House Republicans, but there is still a fight and it will help if we all understand the honest benefits of Obamacare and the Republican lies.

Here are the 10 Obamacare Talking Points:

  1. Children should be allowed to stay on their parent’s policies until age 26.
  2. No denial of coverage for pre-existing condition and NO high-risk insurance pools.
  3. Individuals and employers should have a mandate to get insurance.
  4. Americans should get financial help to cover costs of insurance.
  5. The increased taxes on individuals earning more than $200,000 and families earning more than $250,000 should remain in place.
  6. The 80/20 Plan where Insurance companies have to pay at least 80% of their income on health care costs for customers should remain in place.
  7. Insurance companies should continue to be forced to present any request to raise insurance premiums over 10% to be reviewed.
  8. Federal funds should be used to fund the “risk corridor” program so that insurance companies can be protected from financial losses.
  9. All states should expand medicaid.
  10. Insurance benefits should have no limits in coverage and offer free preventative care.


II. Research Supporting the 10 Talking Points


  1. Children should be allowed to stay on their parent’s policies until age 26.

The law that children between the age of 19 and 26 be allowed to stay on their parent’s insurance policies has had universal support in our country among Republicans and Democrats.

You may find it surprising to know that in 2010,  13 million Americans between the ages of 19 and 29 were uninsured. This figure represented about 27% of the total 47 million Americans were uninsured.

So, this population was important for healthcare planners to get insured. About 3 million became insured on their parents policies and many others bought insurance in the insurance markets.



Click here for a youtube video describing this aspect of Obamcare in more detail.

Youtube video on Obamacare 19-26 year old access to insurance.


      2. No denial of coverage for pre-existing condition and NO high-risk insurance pools.

Obamacare guaranteeing insurance coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions was a radical breakthrough.

For the first time in history, Americans could not be denied coverage or have their coverage terminated because they were sick. It seems shocking to write this sentence…how could an advanced, rich country like America neglect its most vulnerable citizens and allow insurance companies to reap profits by excluding and dumping sick customers.

So, this provision has also received widespread support, but the current Republican proposal begins to limit this provision ever so quietly. They say everyone will be covered, but they create a loophole where Americans must have “continual coverage”, meaning their insurance must not lapse. If it does, the insurance company can demand a 30% premium increase, so the sick person must pay more, as was true in the past.

The other part of the Republican plan is to use “high-risk insurance pools” for Americans with pre-existing conditions and serious health problems. High-risk pools have been used before and several problems were identified, especially related to cost and access. OBamacare is considered by many experts to be better because it focuses on increasing coverage among more healthy, young people so the premiums paid by younger people will help pay for the more costly care of older people.

Here is a short video describing the problems with high-risk insurance pools:

High-risk insurance pools vs. Obamacare


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Aug 06 2016

Relaxation Script

Relaxation Script

Prepare to relax by finding a comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed for 20-30 minutes…loosen any tight or restrictive clothing and remember relaxation is something that happens all by itself if you let it…

and learning to allow relax is allowing relaxation to happen…no one really knows exactly how you relax, but as you think relaxing thoughts, your body responds by letting go…

we don’t really know how you walk, talk, ore scratch your head…you just decide to do these things and your body responds…in the same way your body responds to your decision to let go and relax…

as you learn to relax, please don’t concern yourself with how quickly you are relaxing or whether you are relaxing deeply enough…

you will find, as you practice relaxation, that at different times, you will relax at different rates…sometimes relaxation will occur slowly and subtly…

other times you will relax very deeply, very quickly…

and it really doesn’t matter how you relax at this time, just that you notice how relaxation feels to you when it does occur..

as you begin to let go and begin to notice the sensations of relaxation you have …

that learning to relax is learning to allow relaxation to happen. Your body knows how to relax and as you begin to breathe more deeply, relax your muscles, and use peaceful imagery you will be able to relax, feel more comfortable, and manage challenges more easily.

just allow the intelligence of your body and mind guide you…

Start by finding a spot furthest away from where you are and stare at it. You will notice your eyes becoming slightly tired, they may begin to blink, signaling you are ready to close your eyes and move from your external focus to an internal focus.

Begin to relax more deeply by taking 3 deep, slow breaths.

As you inhale, let that “in” breath be associated with fresh air, peacefulness and relaxation.

As you exhale, let that “out” breath be associated with the release of any unnecessary stress and tension.

As you breath more deeply, allow the muscles in your body to also more deeply relax. Begin with the muscles in your feet and legs, take a deep breath and as you “let go”, allow the muscles in your feet and legs to more deeply relax.

Then the muscles in your stomach and chest…lower back and upper back…arms and hands…neck and shoulders…face and even the muscles around your tongue…allow those muscles to more deeply relax.As you find your body becoming more relaxed, you may notice that your mind is also becoming more quiet, calm and still.

Take a few moments and enjoy this comfortable feeling in your mind and body.

Relaxation is something you learn to do and the more you do it, the easier it becomes…

In order to deepen your level of relaxation, allow an image of a staircase with 10 stairs come into your mind. Notice what the staircase looks like, whether it is wooden or steel, spiral or straight, indoors or outdoors…

Imagine that as you step down each stair, you are stepping into a deeper and deeper level of relaxation. Count backwards from 10 to 1, and when you get to 1 imagine stepping off the stair into a peaceful place, maybe your favorite vacation place or an imaginary beach, woods, or by a pond, whatever comes to your mind… just allow yourself to go there…

So begin to count backwards to yourself from 10…9…8…deeper and deeper…7…6…5…4…3…2…and 1.

Now, allow an image to form in your mind of that safe and beautiful place and just be there…notice what you can see, hear, feel, and smell in that peaceful place…enjoy being there and stay as long as you want…as you allow yourself to become more and more deeply relaxed…

Continue to breathe deeply and comfortably. When you are ready to come back, start to open your eyes, notice the increased light against your eyes and any sounds in the room. Stretch your muscles. Come back refreshed, relaxed and feeling better than before.

When you wake up, write or draw about your relaxation experience and the peaceful place you imagined. Allow yourself to explore any of this experience that you want.

From Guided Imagery for Self-Healing, by Marty Rossman (2000)

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Aug 02 2016

Victories 2016: Acknowledging the Positives

I have a lot of experience in what’s called the “men’s work” field in the Chicago area. Most of my experience is with the Victories of the Heart, formerly known as the Men’s Room.

While it’s somewhat known my 2006-2008 involvement and ending with Victories was problematic, it does not reflect on this organization’s efforts to offer quality programs.

The two founding leaders, Bob Mark and Buddy Portugal (deceased)and the second leadership team, Paul Kachoris and Kevin Fitzpatrick are/were creative and effective therapists and workshop leaders. They are/were charismatic men who changed many men’s lives and their loved ones’ lives for the better.

This does not mean  they were perfect and I discuss some of the difficulties I had with these men in other writing. It’s been many years since I was actively involved and the men who are in key leadership positions have made positive changes.

The woman on the Board is a well known and highly respected therapist, teacher and author. Her input and influence is certain to enhance the organization and programs.

Since 2008, there have been many positive changes in the organization which I am very happy to see and acknowledge. These changes include:

    • movement towards a team style of leadership
    • leadership training and development
    • sensitivity and reduction of the dual-relationship problem within the organization
    • improvement in the support group program
    • development of ethics policies and standards.
    • inclusion of women on the Board
    • more diverse programs, especially the Couples weekend and Shame workshops

Continue Reading »

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Jan 25 2016

Unmasked by Paul Kachoris, MD: A Book Review

I first met Paul Kachoris at a men’s retreat about 1990-91 where he was on the leadership team. It was one of those “I have no idea what I am getting into here type of experiences” which served as my first venture into the direction of the “within”, of the 7 directions, often described as the most important.

Paul was a huge part of my nearly 2 decades of involvement in men’s programs and I am grateful for his gifts. I remember vividly him approaching me as I was getting into my car to leave that first retreat and him telling me he was Kevin’s friend and a writer. He has always been a writer.

This book of poetry exemplifies the lyrical way he connects words to the human spirit. Reading this book, I learned he has been writing poetry for many, many years. I recognized some of his poems’ themes, like the chapel and sculpting out of thin air, as potentially related to his work on men’s retreats. I especially took note of the shadow themes, like in the poem, Ambush, (pps. 92-93) where he explores the inevitability of screwing ourselves over because we lack awareness and self-knowledge.

However, the depth and breadth of his themes relating to his own psyche, relationships with his family, and the disconnect/connect with his family’s homeland in Greece suggested more of Paul’s deeply empathic abilities. I’ve wondered to myself and in some of my own writing how his legacy might be expanded should he connect in some way with the Warrior weekend’s international efforts. He has been a big fish in a small pond for too long. We know fish too big are targeted.

The founders of the program to which Paul has been devoted (one is deceased) were too jealous of his stature and deep masculine energy. They knew how to co-opt and unsex men who they saw getting close to their secrets and illusionary beliefs about their own grandeur, their shadow, as Paul would say. They were the masters of pseudo-mutuality creating a world where everyone acted like they loved each other by denying and avoiding any conflict. In the shadows, they were skillful at creating chaos, keeping others off kilter, ensuring they would be at the center of power, their fingerprints everywhere.

When I had influence, I ensured Paul would be on the marketing video for the organization back in 2004 and then in 2007, built the concept of the organization’s new program committee around Paul as the Chairperson. I knew he was the one to bring some clarity, intellect and humanity to this key element of an organization struggling to evolve. Paul had so much more integrity, wholeness and warmth than the others. These were his strengths, not wasted, but still so much more to give.

His personality archetype may be described by others as more Magician because of his poetry. I know him and see him more in the Warrior/King archetype. Paul even explores the theme of his kingship in one of his poems. He is more King than Magician in my eyes. Magicians stand alone and use their magic in isolation. Warrior/Kings use their strength and wisdom to unite others and fight the good fight. There are so many men who need help and the international men’s network offers men like Paul a pathway.

There was so, so much competition and unresolved conflict within the men’s program where Paul worked and works still, his greatness has been constrained. The Warrior weekend would have embraced his gifts and the leadership program would have challenged him and chiseled his spiritual and intellectual muscle. I know the Warriors would have welcomed him doing both programs and what a model that would have been of inclusion in the men’s work world!

Like me and the rest of us, Paul is not perfect, but he is perfectly human and the world is better for him. At a significant time, he wrote to me and I appreciated it.

The poem that really spoke to me from this book was “On a Train With No Windows” (p142). I want to cite the first several lines.

Paul writes:

Boarded up in my windowless train
on a one way ticket to Somewhere.
Just followed the crowd;
Jumped aboard when young, with baggage in tow.
Not asking: “Where am I going?”

Clickety clack
clickety clack
clickety clack.

Down the one-way track
to some imagined, pre-ordained destination.
-an oasis waiting.

This is a beautiful poem evoking feelings of wonderment, journey, and promise. It reminded me of my favorite song, “People Get Ready” written by Curtis Mayfield, a song in the liberation theology common in the African American community. Unable to speak truth to power for fear of being lynched, castrated, tortured, African Americans used religious language to express their desire for freedom, their salvation.

Like Paul, Mayfield writes,

“People get ready
There’ a train a-coming
You don’t need no baggage
You just get on board

All you need is faith
To hear the diesels humming
Don’t need no ticket
You just thank the Lord.”

The clickety-clack of the train wheels on the rails to freedom, the “oasis waiting.”

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Apr 30 2015

American Psychological Association’s (APA) Support of Torture

The APA’s support and involvement in the Bush/Cheney’s Administration’s torture program is back in the news. There are many details about this program and you can read about them here, here, here, and here.

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Apr 04 2015

Give and Take in Marriage: Men should accept influence from their wives

John Gottman’s research informs a key factor in the work I do with couples. His longitudinal research shows one key to a successful marriage is for men to learn to accept influence from their wives.

When the give and take in a marriage stops and the husband rejects the influence of his wife, the marriage is more likely to end in divorce.

For more information, click here.

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Mar 14 2015

Bibliography: Mindfulness Series

 Imagery Bibliography Specific

Hall, Eric, Hall, Carol, Stradling, Pamela, Young, Diane.(2006). Guided imagery: Creative interventions in counselling and psychotherapy. London:Sage Books

Hopper, J. P. (2014, August 26). Recovered memories of abuse: scientific journals and resources. Retrieved from Jim Hopper, PhD:

Levine, P. R. (2008). Healing Trauma: A pioneering program for restoring the wisdom to your body. Boulder: Sounds True.

Levine, P. R. (2011). In an unspoken voice: How the body releases trauma and restores goodness. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.

Rossman, M. L. (2000). Guided imagery for self-healing. Novato, CA: HJ Kramer/New World Library.

Siegel, D. J. (2012). Pocket guide to interpersonal neurobiology: An integrative handbook of the mind. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Mindfulness Bibliography

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Bernard, S. J. (2007, May 18). Fatal Injuries Among Children by Race and Ethnicity — United States, 1999–2002. Retrieved from Center for Disease Control: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR):

Berry, J. (1985, May 23). The tragedy of Gilbert Gauthe. Retrieved January 28, 2014, from Bishop

Blaustein, M. E. (2010). Treating traumatic stress in children and adolescents: How to foster resilience through attachment, self-regulation, and competency. New York: Guilford Press.

Boynton, R. (1994, November 28). Till death do us part: the trial of Janet Malcom and Jeffrey Masson. Retrieved from Robert S. Boynton:

Brackinridge, C. (2001). Spoilsports: Understanding and preventing sexual exploitation in sport. London: Routledge.

Bremner, J. (1999, April). Does stress damage the brain? Retrieved from

Butler, Susan. (1986). Non-Competitive games for people of all ages.

Catherall, D. R. (1992). Back from the brink: A family guide to overcoming traumatic stress. New York: Bantam Books.

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CDC. (2012, August 24). Sexual violence at a glance. Retrieved March 4, 2015, from CEnters for Disease Control 1991-2011 high school youth risk behavior survey data.

Child Maltreatment Facts at a Glance: Center for Disease Control. (2014). Retrieved January 8, 2015, from National Criminal Justice Reference Resource:

College, H. (1985). The complete letters fo Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess, 1887-1904, excerpts. Retrieved from Frued-Fleiss Letters-Haverford College.

Courtois, C. A. (1999). Recollections of sexual abuse: Treatment principles and guidelines. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Davidson, R. J. (2012). The emotional life of your brain: How its unique patterns affect the way you think, feel and live- and how you can change them . London: Hudson Street Press.

Davidson, R. J., & with Begley, S. (2012). The emotional life of your brain. New York: Hudson Street Press Penguin Group.

Duncan, B. L., Miller, S., Wampold, B. E., & Hubble, M. A. (2010). The heart & soul of Change: Delivering what works in therapy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Eisen, J. (2014, August 21). Sigmund Freud and the Cover-Up of “The Aetiology of Hysteria”. Retrieved from Jonathon Eisen:

Emerson, D. &. (2011). Overcoming trauma through yoga: Reclaiming your body. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.

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Gartner, R. B. (1997). Memories of sexual betrayal: Truth, fantasy, repression, and dissociation. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, Inc.

Gottman, J. (1999). The marriage clinic: A scientifically-based marital therapy. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Gottman, J. (n.d.). Raising Emotionally Intelligent Children.

Hall, Eric, Hall, Carol, Stradling, Pamela, Young, Diane.(2006). Guided imagery: Creative interventions in counselling and psychotherapy. London:Sage Books

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Herman, J. (1992). Trauma and recovery: The aftermath of violence-from domestic abuse to political terror. New York: Basic Books.

Hopper, J. P. (2014, August 26). Recovered memories of abuse: scientific journals and resources. Retrieved from Jim Hopper, PhD:

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Kimmerling, R., Ouimette, P., & Wolfe, J. (2002). Gender and PTSD. New York: The Guilford Press.

Levine, P. R. (2008). Healing Trauma: A pioneering program for restoring the wisdom to your body. Boulder: Sounds True.

Levine, P. R. (2011). In an unspoken voice: How the body releases trauma and restores goodness. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.

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Rossman, M. L. (2000). Guided imagery for self-healing. Novato, CA: HJ Kramer/New World Library.

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No responses yet

Feb 22 2015

Sandra Bland’s Arrest = the clash of two human being’s implicit memory systems.

Implicit memory is a type of long term memory which has an unconscious influence on the way we think, feel and behave. In a stressful situation, our implicit memory systems kick in and we react in a “same pattern over and over way.” For Sandra, an educated woman sensitized to systemic brutality of African Americans, she was upset by what she experienced as a unnecessary police stop and the lack of courtesy and professionalism (already determined by authorities) of the policeman. For the policeman, I can only speculate, he experienced some type of victimization himself early in his life that caused him to react so harshly. The policeman clearly becomes emotionally hijacked, meaning he is adrenalized, his thinking slowed down, and he is reacting automatically (unconsciously) to his mistaken view Sandra is a threat to him. Maybe an earlier trauma, abuse by someone in authority, taunting by bullies, or some other victimization is related to his unprofessional treatment of Sandra.

For more information on implicit memory, watch this video.

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