Couple Family and Sex Therapy NYC


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Gracie Landes, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Sex Therapist located in Chelsea - the Flatiron District of Manhattan will work with you to build solutions that fit you when you have:

the desire to improve any aspect of your life •  trouble adjusting to a new situation or life transition • conflicts that keeps you from being closer to people you care about • anxiety, lack of information or embarrassment about sex • questions about relationships or sexual health...

and you want to work with someone who is dedicated to providing counseling that is brief, respectful and effective, and to discovering what works

Filtering by Tag: habit formation

Self help that make sense, part 1: obsessed with habits

I have long been fascinated by self help books and articles, looking for ideas  that anyone can implement. These ideas from blogger Tynan, author of the book Superhuman by Habit, are are so simple they are they profound. I want to share how some of them apply to relationships.

Your life gets screwed up worse by bad habits than having bad things happen to you.

A single piece of cake won’t make you fat. Habitual overeating will. One drink doesn’t create an alcoholic, a lifetime of drinking does. A single missed payment doesn’t ruin someone’s credit but a lifetime of not paying bills will, just like a lifetime of regular saving actually works.  Fighting the same fight over and over with your partner absolutely doesn’t work. Same for blaming others for your problems or trying to get them to change, things many of my clients struggle with when they first come in.

You are what you do.

Not what you aspire to. You actually change your identity when you develop good habits.

If you want to run a marathon, you do it by getting out there and running, not talking about it or buying gear. If you want to run, run. That’s how you become a runner. If you want to write, write. Not once, but daily. Till it becomes a habit, till it’s just what you do. It’s that simple.

A few good habits put your decision-making process on autopilot.

When you have good habits, things go well for you more often, and you know what to do, from experience. When you develop good work habits, your career becomes rewarding. When you develop good relationship habits, you no longer waste time having the same fight over and over. Good habits are easier to maintain as time passes: as you succeed, you have more energy to keep doing what works.

Life is easier when you take responsibility

When you make the effort to do the right thing, you become free from wasting time focusing on others, wanting them to do what you want them to, trying to get them to change. When you do you, things go right more of the time. There are no guarantees you will always get what you want, but when you focus on what you can do, not what others aren’t doing for you, your path becomes clear.

Don’t avoid effort

If you are learning something and it’s hard, go towards it. Your effort will be rewarded as you learn master this and future challenges. You spend as much energy avoiding a task (which only makes you feel bad) as mastering it (which makes you feel great). The person who is afraid of water wastes a lifetime avoiding the water. The person who breaks it down and learns to swim gains more than the ability to swim, they gain the ability to learn.

Reward the effort, not the outcome

Outcomes are not in your direct conrol, but your process is. When you have a process that works for you, it is always available. When school children are rewarded for grades, they don’t how to learn to think, or study. So, focus on process and learn to solve problems. When you develop a good process, you don’t need an elaborate reward because having the process is it’s own reward. I’ve worked with couples who stubbornly swore they would only change once their partner did: only get married if the other person promised to have a child with them, stop fighting, make more money, you name it. For hose who get paralyzed looking for a guaranteed outcome they can’t get, the real loss comes from refusing to work on themselves.

Start now, and just keep going.

A huge predictor of success is how soon people start a project after deciding on it. Those who start soon after deciding to do something do better at it than those who put it off. I’ve seen people complain that things only go well…by chance, when conditions are right, etc. Conditions are rarely right enough. I’ve seen people walk away from any number of workable relationships in search for the perfect partner, and I’ve seen arranged marriages work brilliantly. 

Learn from your mistakes.

Mistakes feel bad, especially when there are consequences. Still, those who choose learn from failed relationships more often than not go on to build healthy ones. So, if you fail, do not stop! Failure is an opportunity to learn. Those who stumble learning a new skill often get better at it than those who get it right the first time, because they train themselves to make needed adjustments. Learning from your mistakes will take you from pass/fail to a world of options.

Don’t give up

If you give up, your brain will figure out you don’t have go do tough things. So, figure out what your error was and how to correct it. When you get clear how well you are doing and how to do better,  you build a self sustaining process that keeps working and can be applied to all challenges:  “ a universal framework for training yourself”.  Ok, now, get going.


small slivers of change

I am a big fan the concept of small slivers of change, which means the right dose of the right intervention at the right frequency, and I mean often. Often enough, strong enough, manageable enough for change to become reality. We could be talking about dieting, exercise, or any behavior change someone expects to improve their life. 

A 12/31/14 article in the Well column in the New York Times about the "super short workout” and other fitness trends reported that small short bouts of intense activity (often called brief high intensity interval training) are more effective than longer, more sustained workouts. 

In a series of recent studies on brief workouts, both mice and humans having brief, intense repeated exertion experienced “more potent changes" than those doing less intense workouts. It’s like resting between sets of lifting weights. The studies showed changes at a cellular level that lead to larger healthy muscles.  An explanation for it the effectiveness of brief intense workouts was that for physical exercise to be effective, "sometimes you have to get out of your body's comfort zone". 

As with working out, for psychotherapy to be effective, you need to have a different experience and feel it in your body. You need to recognize the experience as a different state of being, and take it again (repeatedly), so you know it’s not just a fluke, something people mistake improvements for. 

A term use to I explain this phenomenon to couples I work with is the vacation effect. A struggling couple returns from vacation feeling reinvigorated and optimistic that things between them have changed, only to find the good feelings they had on vacation quickly fade, leaving them confused and discouraged a mere few days back into their normal routine.They want things to stay as they were on vacation

You can keep good things going. With careful questioning, you can discover what actually worked about being on vacation. It could be that you used your electronic devices less, had more privacy, or paid more attention to each other. Theses discoveries are different for everyone, and it’s best to take time to really look at what actually turned things around for you. Sometimes it’s not what you think. Sometimes it’s easier than you think.One couple discovered that preparing meals together lead to their talking more, which lead to them having sex again.

Careful questioning revealed which elements of the vacation could practically be put into into daily life,in small, frequent, intense doses, or intervals (back to that workout). It’s so worthwhile to have daily routines that work for you, so you’re not just waiting for another vacation for things to be good again.

New habits may seem hard to form but are actually easy, once you understand how they work. Recognize a new behavior, one that works for you. See what works about it. Remember how it feels. Do it again. Take it in. Repeat till it becomes your new normal. When you have small sliver of  a good habit inserted in to your everyday life, your perceptions change along with the your habits. And things keep getting better.