Sunday, March 20, 2011

Personal Boundaries Part III

OK, folks. Let’s finish up this chat about personal boundaries…..those invisible demarcations between ourselves and others. We cannot see them, but we sure do know when they have been violated. We violate the boundaries of our children all the time, thinking that is our right. Oh yes, we do! When we disrespect the little person by grabbing her harshly, when we scream at him, when we give one of them a smack (Yes, I do, oh, I DO understand the impetus to do this. They absolutely can try our patience!), we have violated their boundaries. As my one and only child is grown, I am allowed to pontificate on this… don’t know her name and can’t check with her, but if you could she would absolutely state that I violated her boundaries quite a bit when she was little. But, as Maya Angelou has explained, and as Oprah paraphrases, “When I know better, I do better.” I hope that I have learned something in the intervening years since she was small and now. Now I understand the damage we do when we disrespect our child’s boundaries while we insist that they respect ours. Children always learn by what we do much more than what we say. We model for our children how to set interpersonal boundaries. If you are a woman remaining in an abusive marriage or domestic alliance, you are demonstrating to both your sons and daughters that it is acceptable to be abused. Little boys who witness domestic violence are six times more likely (600% more likely) to batter their female partners than are those little boys who do not witness this. Little girls who watch Mom getting wacked or verbally abused grow up to experience the same. This is all true even if the children in question tell themselves, “I will never strike my partner.” Or, “I will leave in a heartbeat if my partner abuses me.” And, let us not forget that women can also engage actively in domestic abuse and that can have equally devastating consequences for children who witness the abuse.

Modeling appropriate personal boundaries for our children is one of the best “gifts” we can give them. Seeing personal boundaries respected as we grow up automatically instills good boundaries in our children. They don’t even have to address this issue….they just do it (Imagine how great it would be if you didn’t have to struggle with this issue).

To wind this up, ya gotta start somewhere. I didn’t understand the concept of personal boundaries until I was in graduate school (oh, yes, a late bloomer!). What I am saying, is that it is NEVER too late to “get it.” WHEN I KNOW BETTER, I DO BETTER!

Sandy Fournier, M.A., LMFT

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

CFMHA Welcomes David Johns, LMHC

David L Johns, LMHC. David has been a licensed practitioner of psychotherapy in the Central Florida area for nearly 30 years. He has his Bachelors in Psychology and Masters in Counseling Psychology. Since 1985 David has begun to search for, study and utilize positive, solution-focused brief therapy models and has noticed that people respond quicker to these methods than "problem oriented" methods. He has certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and this combined with extensive training in Solution Focused Therapy and Certification in Rapid Resolution Therapy, he became aware of the importance of “languaging” and effect-driven verbal and non-verbal communication as key components in change work. David is past president and founder of an organization that supports survivors of homicide. His specialties include trauma related disorders, anxiety and depression, and has assisted victims of crime, physical and sexual abuse. He has conducted Critical Incident Stress Debriefings for local law enforcement agencies. He has often been called as a media guest for local television and radio news and has been the subject of newspaper articles in the Central Florida area.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Personal Boundaries Part II

Last time I explained the importance of interpersonal boundaries – that everything from towns, states, countries and people need boundaries. I also gave an example of an interpersonal boundary violation. So, how do we go about setting these things called boundaries? I believe that many of us were raised in families where our boundaries were not respected. Maybe you lived in a home where a locked door could be easily picked by a bobby pin – and where this was done while you were bathing and a sister wanted a hairbrush on the shelf in the bathroom (No….of course that never happened to me!). This would be a home where children did not learn about the importance of interpersonal boundaries. Probably all family members disrespected individual boundaries. If you were raised in such a home, no one ever told you that you have a right to set and maintain such boundaries. If that is the case, please “listen” very closely, because I am giving you permission to set and maintain appropriate boundaries. Begin slowly – learn the wonder of the word “No.” Not, “No...I can’t watch your kid because……” Just “No,” with a smile, and without any explanation.
I think that sometimes when someone imposes on us (and do not kid yourself here – this person absolutely knows that they are imposing on you!), we are so busy not being impolite that we sacrifice our own boundaries on the altar of good manners. Not necessary. If you say, “No,” and someone asks “Why?” – your answer should be something along the lines of “Because I do not want to.” -- with the smile. If the requester continues pestering, smile and say nothing. You have already answered. You do not have to engage in answering any further. This is NOT being selfish – it is engaging in self-care. Try it – it is absolutely liberating.

Sandy Fournier, M.A., LMFT

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pre-marital Counseling

We have all heard the statistics, nearly half of all new marriages end in divorce. According to, the actual numbers are 41 percent of all new marriages, 60 percent of second marriages and 73 percent of third marriages, end in divorce. In pre-marital counseling therapists can work with couples to address common areas of difficulty in relationships, strengthen the relationship and improve your chances of going the distance with your partner.

The reasons for divorce vary, from communication problems, to life situations, to financial reasons. Pre-marital counseling can assist couples with preparing for the obstacles that life throws at us.

One of the areas that pre-marital counseling can help with is communication skills and conflict resolution. Communication struggles are one of the most common problems within a relationship. In counseling, we can work with couples on improving their ability to listen, understand one another and empathize with each other. It is also important to know the ways in which each partner in the relationship expresses their communication, non-verbal, subtle, etc. I do not know of a relationship that has never had some form of conflict, and pre-marital counseling can help couples learn healthy conflict resolution skills to effectively deal with problems.

Another important area to explore within the relationship are the role expectations for each partner. Who will work? Who is responsible for the home? Who is responsible for the children? Cooking? Cleaning? These are just some of the various roles that are within a relationship, and sometimes, who will assume those roles can be the cause of conflict. Exploring each partners beliefs and expectations ahead of time, can prevent hurt feelings, resentment and conflict later in the relationship.

What are the goals each partner has in the relationship, both individually and as a family? What about career goals, and will those career goals possibly mean moving to another area or state? How does each partner feel about the possibility of moving? The exploration of these goals and the clear communication about the goals is another important aspect of pre-marital counseling. Along similar lines, the way in which the couple plans on attending to their finances can be explored and figured out.

In today's world, people have all sorts of levels of religious beliefs and spirituality (including none at all), and that can impact a relationship. Things such as where to get married, or who will marry the couple, will come up. If the couple has children what faith (if the couple so chooses to select a specific faith) with the children be raised in. These are issues that are important to identify ahead of time, because they can be very difficult to resolve after the fact, and pre-marital counseling can assist with that.

Another issue that can be addressed in pre-marital counseling, is that of family. Family issues that can be addressed are things such as whether or not each partner is interested in having children, blended family issues, and the roles that in-laws will play in the relationship as well as the family.

The top two reasons for entering into pre-marital counseling are that it will help bring you closer with your partner, and according to research, pre-marital counseling can reduce the risk of divorce by as much as 30 percent. If you are dating, preparing to take that next step, or if you are already married and would like to strengthen your relationship, Central Florida Mental Health Associates would like to help, give us a call.