Insights from Atlanta Counselor Bill Herring, LCSW, CSAT

Atlanta therapist Bill Herring LCSW, CSAT for helpful discussion about sensitive personal issues.

Here's a collection of little essays and observations about a variety of topics related to personal growth, emotional development, relationship enhancenment and other topics I find meaningful and interesting. There's probably enough for an e-book but for now here they are.  

You can read small snippets of each blog post below: click the title of any that interest you to read the entire post.  Each entry has also been loosely grouped into categories which can help guide your viewing.

No Tease Zone

From time to time in my counseling practice I find couples who have settled on a style of communication characterized by light-hearted teasing and amiable sarcasm. As good-natured as this communication style can appear on the surface I typically ask them to eliminate the practice of making fun of each other. I introduce the idea of establishing a "no tease zone" throughout their household. I encourage the elimination of this kind of genial teasing because it rarely leads to any productive growth in intimacy.

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Picking Up the 500 Pound Telephone

One of the most important tools available to someone breaking the bonds of addictive behavior is the telephone. The "cunning, baffling and powerful" nature of addiction thrives in secrecy and shame, and open communication brings much-needed air and light into an addict's walled-off lifestyle. It's been noted many times that the first word of the "12 Steps" of addiction recovery is "we." And yet picking up a telephone and talking to another person is one of the hardest possible behaviors for a habitually secretive addict. This is the origin of the saying about the difficulty of "picking up the 500 pound telephone".

Two Types of Power

Many years ago I read a little book called "The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How To Recognize It And How To Respond", by Patricia Evans. I still recommend this book (despite its unfortunate tendency toward anti-male bias) for its admirable job of highlighting the many types of verbal abuse. These include many subtle forms that may slip by unnoticed, such as discounting ("Oh, that's nothing"), blocking ("I don't want to talk about it"), diverting ("That's not the real issue, this is"),and trivializing ("Whatever"), all of which reinforce an unbalanced power dynamic.

"If" vs. "Is"

Regular readers know that I often write about what I call "therapeutic distinctions", pairs of words or concepts with similar meanings that contain important and even life-altering distinctions, or which initially seem to have little in common but which reveal valuable insights when examined more deeply. These distinctions can be crucial since the words we use influence the way we think, and even small conceptual differences can yield very large consequences.

Intentional vs. Invitational

This is another entry in my ever-increasing collection of "therapeutic distinctions", pairs of words that relate to each other while containing subtle but important differences in meaning. Since I pay very close attention to words I'm constantly on the alert for distinctions that can open up new choices in how to think about a situation. More choices equal more possibilities, and that's where the greatest fun is . (If you want proof of that statement just get a 64-color box of crayons.)

Places and Paces

 

When I'm providing couples counseling it is inevitable that each person will be a slightly different "place" in the change process. To begin with, it's not unusual for one person to initially be more interested in being in a counseling office than the other. It's probably fair to say that in some fundamental way each partner in a relationship is in a different "place" than the other. Healthy partners don't need to be at the same place as each other all the time in order to function well.

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Confusion Equals Progress

Recently I thought I heard someone say these words: "confusion is progress."

Maybe that's not, in fact, what the person actually said, but that's what the words sounded like to me. As I pondered these words I became more confused about what they meant, so I spent a few moments in a state of reflection while smiling that I found myself confused about a statement about confusion!

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70 Plus 70 Equals 100

The idea that a relationship between two people is a 50-50 proposition seems both obvious and fair.  If both people pull their fair share, the partnership will stay balanced and healthy, right? It seems only logical that to achieve a fulfilling relationship both parties must uphold their half of the bargain. But relationships are too important to "meet in the middle".

When I am counseling a couple to improve some troubling aspect of their life together, sometimes it is very easy to determine who owns most of the responsibility for change.  For example, if one person has an affair it's not appropriate to say that his or her partner is somehow "to blame" for the infidelity.  There are better ways than infidelity to handle dissatisfaction.

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Pigs and Chickens (Part One)

Once upon a time a poor villager lived in a small and crowded hut along with his wife, his children and a large number of relatives. His days were filled with toil and drudgery and at night he lay awake on his hard mat feeling very unhappy.

Finally the poor fellow sought the guidance of the wisest man in the village, who considered the  villager's plight for several minutes and then solemnly told him that he must herd all of his pigs and chickens into his hut, and then return after the next moon.

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10 Steps To Better Emotional Health

The hectic pace of life can present a real challenge to the maintenance of good emotional health on a day-to-day basis. It’s no wonder that many of the most-prescribed medications treat symptoms related to stress that arises from “lifestyle” problems such as insomnia, high blood pressure and cholesterol, depression, sexual dysfunction….. the list goes on and on. But a few simple steps can help preserve emotional balance in the face of all the challenges and demands of modern life. Here are ten suggestions to help you insure the maintenance of good emotional health in your daily life:

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