Self-Soothing Techniques

self soothing compassionate postureOne of my favorite therapeutic modalities to pull from is called DBT, or Dialectical Behavior Therapy.  As a Psychotherapist who specializes in all sorts of individual and couple issues, I find that it is the one that most of my clients resonate with.  Below I will explain why it may be beneficial for YOU, your children; or simply a friend in need.  I will also outline it’s basic principles in an easy to understand and relatable way.  I hope you find this helpful!

SELF-SOOTHING has to do with comforting, nurturing and being kind to yourself. 

Self-soothing techniques often involve changing the moment of distress by focusing on this heightening awareness of your senses and fixing your attention on something pleasurable. Each of the five senses offer their own unique ways of transitioning us from distress to calm.
  • Vision: Take a walk through a garden, quietly observe in nature, or visit an art gallery/museum.
  • Hearing: Listen to soft, beautiful sounding music— with your full attention.
  • Smell: Burn a scented candle, or visit the beach and smell the ocean.
  • Taste: Eat something delicious— giving full attention to each morsel and truly appreciating the flavors.
  • Touch: Take a warm bath or play with an animal. Sink into a really comfortable bed.  Float or swim in a pool, and feel the water against your body.  Focus your attention on pleasurable physical sensations.

Incorporating the self-soothing techniques takes time and practice.  Forming new habits is not an easy task for anyone, but with patience and continued effort, people will find relief through the self-soothing methods taught in DBT.

shelby castileSome of you may recognize these techniques as things that you already put to use. But many people have never learned how to self-soothe, or how to do these often simple things that make us all feel better. These are mostly very physical techniques, that use different body senses. I urge you to experiment with these techniques until you find some that are comfortable and helpful for you. And when you find something that works, and makes you feel GOOD— practice it. Use them when you are feeling distressed; when emotions feel overwhelming; when situations feel like you can’t stand them any more. Instead of doing something harmful OR that simply doesn’t work for you (like reaching for food, alcohol, TV, shopping – whatever your vice may be)—- try something that gives you pleasure and comfort, such as an example from above.
 Are you or a loved one looking for a Psychotherapist who specializes in Marriage and Family relationships?  Do you or a friend need help with a sticky social situation?  
Contact me HERE!  I offer face-to-face Psychotherapy sessions in Orange County, as well as, online through eTherapi.  I am also offering FREE online sessions for first time clients @ Google Helpouts.
 Photo Credits: iStock

Texter? Read this.

TEXTING.  We all do it. But there are a lot of assumptions being made along the way.  This can lead to confusion for many people and a lot of interpreting and misunderstanding.  Not good stuff.  And more-so, challenging stuff- especially for people who have a tendency to overthink.

insightful-guy-textingIt is obviously is a very popular form of communication in both the business and personal communication arenas.  However, it can often lead to major problems if the underlying tone of the message is misinterpreted on one end.  If the parties involved are in different emotional states of mind, the slightest disagreement via text can quickly spiral out of control leading from a semi-disagreement to a full blown argument.  The texting communication breakdown occurs because… Let’s face it- we all aren’t poets.  Seasoned poets can clearly exhibit brilliant emotion in their text writing, but the average texters intended written emotion, very often, gets lost in translation.

       The source of the problem with texting communication deals directly with emotion.  Emotion portrayed in a text can be interpreted differently when being read by different people, in much of the same way that song lyrics can be interpretated by different people.


How can we solve texting communication issues?  There isn’t one correct answer, but here are 4 bullet points that may help you out:
Be Brief.  Write short text messages only —-with a crystal clear point.
Be Clear. Do not write long winded confusing paragraphs that leave room for misinterpretation.  Save these for conversations…  in person or on the phone!
Proofread. Proofread your message.  If you’re in a rush, don’t send it! This can give you added perspective on how well it will be received by the intended recipient.
Pick up the phone! While texting can be a convenient communication channel, certain discussions need to be handled over the phone, or if possible, in person.  If you notice that the situation or relationship is starting to deteriorate, don’t send another text.  Instead, pick up the phone or arrange a face to face meeting.
phoneI cannot emphasize enough— How often I see clients become frustrated, confused, and even enraged when sending and receiving texts. Don’t get me wrong, the text message is a super versatile medium with which the possibilities are endless.  It just seems important to note, that texting is most definitely not a replacement for a good old fashioned face-to-face encounter.  If you notice yourself ruminating or wondering what/how etc. to reply to a text… PICK UP THE PHONE!
IMG_2748Need help with a sticky social situation or relationship issue?  Contact me HERE!  I offer face-to-face sessions Psychotherapy in Orange County, as well as, online through eTherapi.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Overwhelmed with Life?

Do you have so much on your plate right now that you’re left feeling overwhelmed and stressed out most of the time?  Having too much going on can leave you feeling overworked, frustrated and underappreciated.  

post it

What can you do to get back to a place of mental clarity and relaxation?

In an age of fast paced lifestyles and heightened commercialism, everywhere we turn is a demand for our attention. On top of the information overload, we are working longer, and taking less time off.  The result?  More stress and less time to ourselves.  Juggling between work, children, family and our personal needs, it’s easy to get sucked into the never-ending list of to-dos.  Trust me, I get it!  
This blog will look at 5 simple stress management techniques to overcome this sense of overwhelming anxiety in order to live a more relaxed and stress-free lifestyle.
|| 5 Ways to Overcome the Overwhelm ||

1. Step AWAY

Sounds simple, I know.  But sometimes, we can become so engrossed in what we are doing and trying to make things just right that it becomes hard to step away.  However, you can’t get away from feeling overwhelmed from a place of overwhelming confusion. You have to step away to be able to view your circumstances from a fresh perspective.

Suggestion— Move to a different room, get up from your desk, go out for a walk/yoga class or go sit in a café. Stepping out from the current situation and changing your environment will help you gain clarity, and shift you away from your overwhelming state of mind.


When we are feeling overwhelmed, our mind becomes clouded by the task at hand, and by the thoughts that cause us to feel stressed in the first place.  Many times, we get so caught up in the doing, that we forget why we are doing it. Instead of being busy and simply hoping it will lead us to where we want to go.

Suggestion — Start with asking, “How do I want to feel?” And then focus on feeling that way. Set your intention! You might ask yourself, “What is truly important to me?” And then focus on doing things that are important to you, instead of the multitude of tasks that are overwhelming.


Whenever we are feeling overwhelmed, there is likely a lot going on inside our head. Ideas and thoughts swimming in our minds, cluttering up our mental space. The best thing to do is to get these thoughts out on paper.  I cannot emphasize this step enough- it is by far the number one suggestion I give to most of my clients.

Suggestion — Grab a pen and a piece of paper, a notebook, scratch paper —  whatever!  Start jotting down everything on your mind. Write without editing and write out every thought. If you have a bunch of to-dos running in your head — list them out. If you have an idea —brain storm on paper.  And remember not to worry about keeping things looking neat and perfect. This will only limit your freedom to get whatever it is out — the stuff that’s keeping you feeling overwhelmed in the first place!

4. Ask

People are amazing.  Often, we are the problem that is disallowing help from happening through our limited thinking.  We think family or friends will say no, and so we don’t ask.

Give it a try. Ask for help, and be prepared to be amazed at the generosity that others are willing to provide.  The key is to be open to receiving what others are willing to provide. Just imagine the worst case scenario—They say no. Not a biggie.

5. Boundaries 

Time is our most precious commodity. So be mindful.  Spend it wisely and consciously.  Suggestions — Start with asking yourself what is most important to you and identifying how you want to feel. Then figure out what activities will support those feelings and things of importance. How much alone time do you need to re-charge? How much time do you want to spend with the kids, family, community etc? How much do you want to engage in creative endeavors/spiritual evolvement?  Once you’ve decided what’s important and how long you want to allot, create boundaries around important activities and do not budge with any incoming distractions. Do not allow unimportant noise and activities to creep in.  Because both email and Facebook can be such a time suck, set boundaries such as only checking it once a day for 30 minutes. In other words, do only what’s absolutely necessary, and anything that doesn’t get done during this time will just go on the list for a future time.

mom relax
Remember, you simply cannot answer every email that comes in, or get to every chore on your list. And that is okayYou are not obligated to do everything.  You have the ability to design the life you want and the freedom to create the rules.  
Another suggestion — Everyday, make sure to do at least one thing for yourself by yourself. Alone time is of utmost importance and not enough people realize this.  Take a hot bath with candles, or sit with a cup of chamomile tea while reading a few pages of something inspirational. 

Are you or someone you know looking for a Psychotherapist who specializes in Marital & Family Relationships?  Contact me HERE!  I offer face-to-face sessions in Orange County as well as Online through eTherapi.

Photo credit(s):  iStock 


Calm the &*%$ down!

o-CALM-IN-CHAOS-facebookYeah right. If only it was that easy.

Chaos.  Overloaded with stress.  Busyness. Over-scheduled lives.  Trying to do all, be all. People don’t talk about it much (at least outside the therapy room).  Because everyone is very good at figuring things out.  We are self-reliant and resourceful.  Everyone is always networking.  With the innovation of technology and digital power, everyone is superb at multi-tasking, getting things done and simplifying for the purpose of productivity.  Below I will outline 3 fairly basic steps to calming the &*%$ down in a chaotic world ~ AND (most importantly) finding your peace in the midst of this chaos.

The following 3 steps will help you stop focusing on your problems and make room in your life for your true purpose to reveal itself.  These ideas may seem silly at first glance~ but give them a try and see how you feel and if anything shifts or opens up in your life.

1. Give.

Clear your mind for a moment by finding someone or some organization that needs a skill you have, and offer it for free, even if it’s just for an hour.  This may sound like you are being irresponsible~ I mean, shouldn’t you be spending all your free time finding a solution to your life ~ a job perhaps? No. Take a break and step away from the spinning mind; it will be there when you get back. I promise.  Result? Volunteering makes you feel grateful for what you do have what you can offer.  Plus, you may even gain some new perspective about life, purpose and/or current troubled situation. Perhaps you will network, or be inspired for something you have not thought about before.

2. Move.

People get immobile when going through a crisis.  Choose an easy workout ritual to follow daily and force yourself to stick to it.  Move through the uncomfortable or painful feelings and get into your body.  Yoga is generally my recommendation~ but if a yoga class isn’t an option for you, do a few pushups or jumping jacks.  Even a simple walk will do… Heck, turn on some music and dance! No excuses and no equipment needed.  Result? The energy in your body gets shaken and shifted, and endorphins start to flow. You may begin to crave healthy food & think positive thoughts~ which in turn, all helps lead you to a clearer mind.

3. Listen.

Go to a place where you can sit in solitude and connect with yourself. Your soul is your partner forever and it needs attention; it will give you back as much as you give it.  I promise.  Sit on your couch with some calm music, or under a tree if you are outside.  Breathe. Deeply.  Result? You are allowing your soul to guide you to the answers that your mind cannot seem to find about where this chaos is leading you.

getty imageWhenever I find myself stressed, anxious and feeling lonely among the chaos of life in our digital, fast-paced world of wonderful technology~I know I need a shot of some serious rest and radical self-care.  This is also by far the number one suggestion I give to most of my clients.  Slowing down is learning to say “yes” to new priorities.  

Enjoy the process!


936123600_wje5b-MAre you or someone you know looking for a Psychotherapist who specializes in Marriage & Family Relationships?  

Contact me HERE!  I offer face-to-face sessions in Orange County as well as Online through eTherapi.




Photo credit(s):  Getty Images / Shutterstock / Mario Covic Photography 

Relationship in a Rut?

Do you really think your relationship conflict is about chores, hygiene, or dirty socks on the bedroom floor?  It’s not. Trust me.

relationship difficultiesSure~~~ Wanting to strangle your husband from time to time is perfectly normal. But if you’re constantly coming up against the same relationship problem- and experts say most couples do- then you’ll have to get to the root of the conflict if you want to move forward as a happier, healthier, more connected couple.  No partnership is exempt from these patterns, but they can most definitely corrode perfectly loving bonds over time.  


A healthy relationship~ just like everything else in life, needs care and attention.

hands holding
Figuring out how to fix a relationship is the challenging part and where my expertise comes in.  There are so many different dynamics involved and it’s really difficult to know where exactly the balance went off.  It can often be helpful to get a third party involved to help couples see the deeper issues and begin to untangle their unhealthy web. But nevertheless, arriving at couples therapy really doesn’t have to be the end of the relationship. Even the unhappiest of relationships can be fixed with a bit of understanding and love.
If you are still very much in love with your partner and willing to work on your relationship~ it may be helpful to read these four simple pointers on how to nurture your relationship that may feel off balance from time to time. 

1.  Communicate.

Ask yourself honestly- How did I deal with the situation the last time I disagreed with my partner?  Most couples I see, prefer to just end an argument with silent evenings rather than face the situation.  There’s also the option of giving each other some space for a a few days and wait for the issue to get sorted out by itself.  But- by avoiding a confrontation, you would end the fight but you really can’t understand each other or help each other.  Problems that are brushed under the carpet always have a way of creeping back up.  

My suggestion? The next time you’re feeling frustrated, irritated or lonely- talk about it with your partner and try to get over the issue in that moment. 

2.  Forgive.

We’re all human- and all of us make mistakes, even the most perfect of people. If you want to know how to nurture a relationship and be successful at it, you must learn to forgive one another. If you feel something’s wrong in the relationship or if your partner’s done something unacceptable, talk to your partner without accusing or shouting at them. Help your partner understand how you feel about the situation.  And, unless an inexcusable mistake is repeated, learn to forgive and move forward.

3.  Compromise.

Learn to give in. It’s as simple as that. It’s surprising to see that so many individuals struggle in a relationship because of this one thing alone.  Over 10 years of working with couples in private practice, I’ve noticed both men and women becoming more and more stubborn with one another. It’s really difficult for people to give in.  Here’s what I like to point out when I see this… If you truly love your partner~ seeing them smile or have a good time would make you happy too, wouldn’t it?

4.  Grow.

Relationships need to grow constantly, similar to how individuals need to grow. When a relationship stagnates, you start to lose interest in it and soon, you stop caring about it. Learn to improve a relationship, by learning from each other and giving each other enough space to grow as individuals. Only by becoming better individuals can both of you become better lovers.
These 4 fixes on how to nurture a relationship can seem trivial and easy- But that’s the whole point. Sometimes, the most complicated of knots need only a small tug where it matters.
936123600_wje5b-MAre you or someone you know looking for a Couples Therapist who specializes in Relationships?  Contact me HERE!  I offer face-to-face sessions in Orange County as well as Online through eTherapi.
Photo Credit(s): Mario Covic Photography and




Sigh. The Toxic Friend.

toxic friend

There are many different characteristics of toxic friendships. Some are overly-competitive to the point of being hurtful. Some make snide remarks about your looks, weight, relationships, while acting like your friend. Some only want to talk about themselves and their problems without ever asking about your life or offering support. Whatever the type, maintaining a toxic friendship is an unhealthy situation.

I’ve listed 7 questions below to help you identify if you’re in a toxic friendship.  
  • How do I feel after being with this friend? (Do I get anxious or overwhelmed after spending time with this person or do I leave our interaction with a sense of peace and contentment?)
  • Would my friend talk about me in a negative way to others?
  • Does my friend criticize and/or belittle me?
  • Do I hesitate to share my good news because of how it might make them feel?
  • Does my friend abuse the friendship and/or take advantage of me?
  • Is there give and take in our relationship?
  • Do I even like this person?  
 Even friendships that have lasted decades can have rough spotsso if your relationship with a friend is deep-rooted into your life, it might be better to address the behaviors that are irritating you to see if the relationship can be salvaged rather than just ending the relationship. However, if the friend is an acquaintance- or is hostile and makes you feel bad about yourself, then the healthiest decision might be to move on. It’s all about what’s doing right for you.


My advice? Focus on the friendships that sustain you and help you be the best, happiest person you can be–and move on from the rest.  Remind yourself that friends are supposed to be a source of support and kindness, and that you are supposed to leave social interactions feeling happy and grateful for the loved ones in your life.


Need help with a sticky social situation or relationship issue?  Contact me HERE!  I offer face-to-face sessions Psychotherapy in Orange County, as well as, online through eTherapi.

Photo credits- Shutterstock.

Temptation & Cheating.

There are several ways to deal with feelings of attraction to someone outside your relationship. 


In my work with all types of couples, cheating is the most common theme I see in my practice.  Although each couple is unique in their particular dilemma- the couples usually arrive in my office after the cheating has occurred. For this reason, I will outline below, 4 ways to help to deal with the urge to sway from your partner before the cheating occurs.

1.  Identify.  Identify why you are tempted to cheat.  Common reasons include boredom with your sex life, frustration with some aspect of your relationship, or simply the idea that grass is greener on the other side. Relationships are like flowers – you have to water and care for them, or they wilt and die. Perhaps your relationship has just gone a bit flat and it’s time to add a little spice. Identifying the reasons you may be tempted by another is an important step in dealing with those feelings.
2.  Speak up.  For example, if you are bored with your sex life, discuss what new activity you could try together.  Sometimes too, life gets in the way and we don’t let our partners know how much we love and appreciate them.  Say Something.  Communication is key people.
3.  Write.  Make a list of your partner’s best qualities. Focus on what you love about him or her. For example, you might like her witty jokes or the kind way he treats others. You can also list their most physically attractive qualities. Thinking about these good traits will help remind you why you’re with this person.
4.  Act.  Spend good quality time with your partner. Sitting and watching TV or playing a video game that s/he watches may not be the best idea. Converse. Have experiences. Go visit friends together. See a movie and then go out to dinner or tea and chat about it.
Things to remember.

Avoid any potentially compromising situations.  Don’t carpool to meetings, don’t exchange phone numbers or make him/her your Facebook friend. Don’t have any interactions with him/her where you are alone – ever. It’s very likely that your present partner is aware of your attraction to this person – s/he will be watching.  If you want your present relationship to survive, you will need to make sure that your partner’s trust in you is not misplaced.  Remember who you are.  Be the person you think you are in your heart – and remember, you are what you do. If you think you’re a noble, good person- Remember that a person like that does not lie and cheat just to feel good or special.  Take steps to fix or couple-man-with-hand-on-womans-neck-articleend that relationship before acting on the temptation presented by the new person.
Are you or someone you know looking for a Couples Therapist who specializes in Relationships?  Contact me HERE! 
I offer face-to-face sessions in Orange County as well as Online through eTherapi.

Photo credit(s):  Shutterstock.

SEX and Dating.

Ever regretted having sex on a first date? Maybe you shouldn’t have.

sex date

Maybe sex on the first date doesn’t necessarily have to lead to the walk of shame.  I came across this interesting and insightful article in Psychology Today and thought I’d share.  
Click HERE for a Saturday Special read on Sex, Dating & Relationships.  
What do you think?
Are you or someone you know looking for a Couples Therapist who specializes in Relationships? Contact Me Here!  I offer face-to-face sessions in Orange County as well as Online through eTherapi.

Photo credit:  Shutterstock.

Grown Women & Bullying. Really?


Bullying is supposed to be a junior high thing, but we all know it doesn’t always end when childhood does.

Despite the façade that these women put up, bullies have low self-confidence and low self-esteem, and thus feel insecure.  Doing research for this blog, I found that low self-esteem is a factor highlighted by all studies of bullying. Bullies are seething with resentment, bitterness, hatred and anger.  They are driven by jealousy and envy.  What I have found is that these female bullies AKA Mean Girls…are easier to deal with when you understand them. Today I have some simple tips for dealing with bullies or  Mean Girls, who are loooooong past their cafeteria days.

1.  Ask.

Ask yourself, “How is this impacting my life?”  Consider how it’s affecting you. If someone’s sniping is a minor annoyance, let it be…  However, if you are losing sleep, you hate going to work, or you’re feeling depressed or unworthy because of the way someone’s treating you, then you need to do something.  I’m not a big fan of the ignore it” school of thought.  I believe ignoring it only reinforces a sense of powerlessness in the target.  So if someone is belittling, humiliating or insulting you at work or in your friend group, and it’s making you upset, it’s time to address it.

2.  Write.

Just a simple journal entry works. If you are being cyber-bullied, print out all correspondence and keep it in a file.  Documenting what’s happening is key, especially if the bullying is work related. Keep track of when, where and how it happens, along with who is present.  This is important so that you can present an objective, coherent case to the bully.

3.  Seek.

I recommend asking yourself whether you have the skills to handle the situation yourself. If so, you can confront the bully personally.  If not, or if you just feel that someone else’s help would be beneficial, you have a number of options.  Often sharing your problems and speaking them out loud helps you put things into perspective. Plus, it’s always good to get input from others.

4.  Remove.

This isn’t always possible, and I would not suggest it be your first response; But if the bullying persists despite all your attempts to stop it, sometimes removing yourself from the situation is the best option.  The one positive thing about dealing with bullying as an adult as opposed to a child, is that you have the choice to get yourself out of the situation.  Amen!  Yes, we adults have the benefit of removing ourselves from a toxic situation.

5.  Remember it’s not about you.

Most bullying comes from a bully’s issues, not from any characteristics of the victim.

Bullying can hurt, but remember — whether you’re in the yoga studio, the lunchroom, or anywhere in between, the bully is the one with the problem, not you.


Need help with a sticky social situation? Email Me!

Photo credit- Shutterstock.



Cultivating Compassion.


“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” - Dalai Lama


But what if this person has mistreated you?  What if this person simply bugs the sh*t out of you? Please excuse the not-so-clinical language.  You can fill in the blank.


Below, I will outline 5 different practices that you can try out and perhaps incorporate into your every day life that may assist in developing compassion for people that irritate the sh*t out of you.


5 Compassion Practices:  Actually, 3 compassion practices sandwiched by a morning and evening ritual.

  1. Morning ritual. Greet each morning with a ritual.  Any ritual will work, it’s just important to have a self-care ritual.  Here is an affirmation ritual I suggest by the Dalai Lama: “Today I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”  Say this out loud or write this down in your journal.  Repeat if necessary.
  2. Appreciate commonalities.  Instead of recognizing the differences between yourself and this person (or group of people)- attempt to recognize what you have in common. At the root of it, we are all human beings, right?  We all need food, shelter and love.  We all crave attention, recognition and affection. Reflect on these commonalities you have with other human beings.  Here are some things to contemplate/say to yourself.  “Just like me, this person is seeking happiness in his/her life. Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering in his/her life.  Just like me, this person has known sadness, loneliness and despair.  Just like me, this person is seeking to fill his/her needs.  Just like me, this person is learning about life.”
  3. Develop Compassion: Once you can empathize with another person, and understand his/her humanity and suffering, the next step is to want that person to be free from suffering. This is the heart of compassion — actually the definition of it. Try this exercise: Imagine the suffering of a person you’ve met recently. Now imagine that you are the one going through that suffering. Reflect on how much you would like that suffering to end.  That is the feeling that you want to develop. With constant practice, that feeling can be grown and nurtured.
  4. Practice:  The final stage in these compassion practices is to not only want to ease the suffering of those we love and meet, but even those who mistreat us. This is by far the most challenging (for me, at least!)  When we encounter someone who mistreats us, instead of acting in anger or defensiveness, remove yourself from the situation and detach. Later, when you are feeling more calm, reflect on that person who mistreated you. Some things to consider- Imagine the history of that person and what that person was taught as a child.  Imagine the day or week that person was going through. Imagine the mood and state of mind that person was in and what they must have been going through to mistreat you that way. Most often, their action was not about you- but about what they were going through.  Once you have mastered this practice of reflection, try acting with compassion and understanding the next time a person mistreats you.
  5. Evening ritual. I highly recommend you take a few minutes before going to bed to reflect upon your day. Think about the people you met and interacted with throughout your day.  Think about your intention that you stated in the morning ritual morning.  Write about it.  Even if it’s brief, just jot some words down to get them out of your head and onto paper.

These compassionate practices can be done anywhere, anytime.  By starting and ending your day with a morning and evening ritual, you can frame your day properly, in an attitude of cultivating compassion and developing it within yourself. And with practice, you can begin to do it throughout the day, and throughout your lifetime.  This above all else, will bring happiness to your life and to those around you. 


Photo credits- Shutterfly