Divorce Therapist Los Angeles | When Divorce is the Right Thing to Do!

Divorce Therapist Los Angeles Linda Engel on important divorce topics

Most people would agree that marriage is a commitment that should not be taken lightly. In other words, it would be foolish to give up on an otherwise healthy, supportive and loving relationship just because of some tension or disagreement between spouses. The wise know that all relationships will ultimately contain some difficulties and times of disillusionment, but that working through these issues with a mature attitude and sometimes professional help can be very fruitful for the couple.

Relationships do change over time. They deepen and sometimes the early passion, bonding and fun can give way to the “business” of life. Children, in-laws, work, finances, health and home can sometimes override some of the initial excitement and wonder of finally connecting with “the one”. In general if people are willing to hold to their original commitment, work through problems and maintain respect for each other and themselves, they can get get through their difficulties and are usually glad that they did.

On the other hand, there are certain situations that are unhealthy enough that it is advisable to end the relationship. This is when there is any sort of abuse, particulary physical abuse or domestic violence.
However, this is a very complex issue.

Most people don’t understand how someone could be involved in a relationship that contains these sorts of problems or why they would stay. The reasons are many. One reason that people, most commonly women, don’t leave is that for a woman to leave a batterer is a very dangerous thing. It is typically the most common time that a woman can be killed in a dv relationship.

There is also the issue of ambivalence that the woman goes through because of the fact that even though she does understand that it is not healthy or positive to have a spouse or partner who hits you, she sometimes believes that it is temporary or that it is her fault. She may believe that it is due to certain stresses that he is going through and make excuses for him. She may have seen that sort of behavior modeled for her with her own mother.

Also, if the victim of the abuse happens to be a man, he is often ashamed and loathe to get help for fear of being ridiculed for being in the situation.

People who are involved in relationships where there is abuse are often filled with self doubt and make excuses for the abuser. They often lack the faith or resources to survive on their own. Emotional, psychological or financial dependence are common reasons that people remain in unhealthy relationships. Distorted thinking, cultural or social pressure, dictums such as “If you are alone, you are a failure” or “You are too old/fat/thin/uneducated/unsophisticated, etc. to make it on your own” or “You will never find anyone else”. “If I’m divorced, people will think it was my fault:” “It is better for the kids”.

When a relationship is destructive, it is appropriate to end it, albeit not an easy thing to do. Support is an important element. Family, friends, a domestic violence agency or a therapist are options. And relationships that are oppressive or emotionally abusive can be very destructive as well. Love shouldn’t hurt!

Linda Engel is a Divorce Therapist Los Angeles, please contact her for a consultation


Couples Counseling Sherman Oaks | 5 Tips for Dating After Divorce

If you are looking for couples counseling Sherman Oaks, or anywhere in the Los Angeles area, it can be a challenge to put yourself back out into the dating world after the devastation of divorce. Trusting yourself and others can be difficult initially. Your attitude about your divorce will greatly impact the ability to succeed in beginning the daunting search for another relationship, particularly one that suits you at this time of life.

For some, it has been many years since they have faced the single world and working up the confidence to begin again can be tough. You may be filled with self doubt. You may feel too old, too out of style and
wonder about your worthiness to attract a mate. One woman I know had her adult daughter help her to dress for dating and encourage her in a sweet role reversal.

You may feel that you have to fit some mold rather than just being yourself. It can be a time of great insecurity. Although everyone is different, there are some universal concerns.

1) Assess Your Readiness

If you are still grieving the marriage or have not made peace with your present state of being single, there may be some steps that you need to take before moving ahead into the dating scene. You may need group support, with others who are also recently divorced. You may need to reassess your financial state before you put yourself out there. There may be some “cleaning up” that needs to be done. Children may need help in adjusting to having divorced parents and may need special attention for awhile. You may need to speak with a psychotherapist for a brief period. Exploring early relationship dynamics and patterns as well as communication habits can be helpful.

2) Take it Slow

Don’t get involved too quickly as a defense against both the anxiety of your new state and loneliness. Remember that if the other person is healthy, they will also want to take it slow.

3) Be Safe

Remember that if you met someone online, that you do not know this person. Choose a neutral, casual, well lit place for the first meeting and don’t give up all of your personal information quickly. Initial encounters should be fairly casual. Having said that, however, it is o.k. to talk in general terms about what you are both looking for. Marriage, a committed relationship without marriage, friendship, a travel partner or merely casual dating. Keep in mind that you are looking for information that will help you decide whether you should continue.

4) Attend Group Events

Find things that you are interested in and look for singles clubs surrounding those interests. Group events are so much less intimidating than one on one dating. There is no pressure and it allows you time to build
friendships. There are so many wonderful things in which you can become involved. You can travel in a singles group. You can dance, sing (karaoke, anyone?), hike, bike, read (book clubs), volunteer or join a political organization.

5) Talk to People Who Have Some Experience

Go to those who have been doing it for some time and ask what you should look out for. Look for people who have ended up in happy relationships and ask them how they got there. When you are happy and confident you are your most attractive and finally, have fun! This process doesn’t have to be miserable, albeit nerve wracking at times. Happy hunting and don’t forget your sense of humor!

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Divorce Counseling Sherman Oaks | Divorce: Making the best of a bad situation

Divorce counseling Sherman Oaks with Linda Engel. The decision to terminate a marriage is a profound step towards beginning a more effective and satisfying life. One of the most important issues to keep in mind during the process is what your goal is. So, for example, if your goal is to have a healthy coparenting relationship, then you will approach the negotiations with that idea in mind. If your goal is to have an equitable settlement and you happen to be dealing with a particularly difficult spouse, it may serve you better to communicate through attorneys. “Just the facts” and keeping it simple will head off lots of unpleasant and ugly conversations. Negotiations to end a relationship are always difficult due to the emotions involved. Be sure to keep in mind that you want things to be fair, not that you need to punish your partner.

Consider this: Think about the type of emotions involved when you are planning a vacation or a party, any sort of a celebration. Although it may be a lot of work, the idea and the motivation behind it are very different and therefore make it much easier to do.

If you need divorce counseling sherman oaks, remember that most people do not get to the point of divorce without some serious consideration, particularly where there are children involved. If you can keep in mind a few important ideas, the transition, albeit painful, can be a bit smoother.

Remember that no relationship is a mistake nd that we learn important things about ourselves in each one. It is sad when people who come together for love cannot remain together, but it need not be tragic.

Divorce can be an empowering and freeing event ultimately. You can even teach children wonderful lessons about ending or changing relationships with grace and dignity. You need NOT be bitter in the end. Of course, at first, often there is a lot of anger and a sense of betrayal. Actually, one of the stages of grief is anger. Divorce is a loss and the relationship must be grieved properly. It IS important t have a healthy outlet for the anger. It may be a support group, healthy friends, a therapist or a religious leader. You will need a supportive ear to listen to your feelings. Usually underneath the anger is fear and hurt. the fear could be financial or emotional.

You may be asking yourself questions like “How will I survive? Will I be judged? Will I ever have love again?” The longer the marriage was, the more difficult it is to recover. Some psychologists believe that for every five years of a marriage that it takes up to one year to heal. But heal, you can. With the proper support and the right attitude, your divorce can go from a painful and overwhelming ending of a union to a beautiful new path to a lifestyle that is more fitting to the person that you have become.

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Divorce – Tragic End or New Beginning? From a Divorce Therapist, Studio City

As a divorce therapist Studio City, I am often asked if divorce is the end or a beginning. It really all depends on your attitude. With the proper support, difficult transitions can be doorways to new opportunities. What we focus on grows. The positive psychologists know this well. If we focus on sadness, fear, anxiety and tragedy, we will likely be depressed and hopeless. Although we do need an opportunity to vent with regard to these fears, we don’t have to stay there. Divorce does not have to be a tragedy, albeit a painful process.

It is a death of sorts and must be grieved. The stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and ultimately acceptance must be passed through. Most people have known at least one person who gets stuck in the anger stage. By the way, healthy people tend to avoid those folks. For most of us, listening to the rant of a twenty year old betrayal is not an activity that we are drawn to. The depressing generalizations that those who become bitter are just as unpleasant. “All men cheat” or “Women are only interested in money”. As I mentioned earlier, what we focus on grows, so guess what? If you are a woman who peserverates on the idea that “All men cheat”, guess what sort of men you will continue to attract? If you are a man whose philosophy is “Women only want money” you will probably attract those sorts of women.

Negativity begets negativity.

In addition to a divorce therapist  Studio City, many years ago, i worked in a battered women’s shelter. Being a young novice in the field, I was a bit passive, when we did the support groups for the women. I watched the more skilled and experienced social worker continually “contain” the volatile emotions of the women. In my “professional adolescence”, what I learned from my esteemed supervisor was this. “We don’t want to allow them to remain in the hopeless, negative state.” When I behaved passively with the women, not only was I not helping them, but I would end up feeling depressed at the end of group. What I noticed with my supervisor was that although he was supremely empathic to the suffering of these women, that he did not accept their dictums about life and instead insisted on instilling hope for them and for their children. His creative and artful abilities to teach them to visualize having their own power in their lives both emotionally and financially was inspirational.

Of course, this is a select population and many of you may feel that you cannot relate to these women. But, as some level, no matter what level of education, sophistication or socioeconomic status, most people feel somehwat disempowered while going through a divorce. It shakes people to the core. There are worries about finances, children and the future. There is loneliness and sadness as well as anger. No one gets married to get divorced. Most people make great attempts to repair the marriage before they finally accept that life will be better for all if they end the relationship.

As far as children are concerned, in the best cases, children take about a year or so to make the adjustment. There may be some acting out behavior, a temporary drop in grades, some anger and/or manipulation. Kids have the best chance to readjust when their parents readjust in a healthy way. Although ideally, it is best for children to grow up in a stable, intact family, it is not necessarily a tragedy if the parents divorce. A positive lesson that can result from the family rupture could be that, change does not have to be devastating and that people can survive and thrive after divorce. Social support is an important element. Church, temple, family and friends play an important role.

Sometimes, the assistance of a good therapist who specializes in helping people through the transition can be important. Being mindful of health matters at this stressful time is vital. Speaking with your doctor if you notice any physical manifestations of the stress is imperative.

It is especially important to ultimately attempt to learn from the mistakes made in the marriage so as not to repeat them. It may be either not being careful enough in the selection of a mate or not speaking up assertively or knowing how to negotiate and compromise in an intimate relationship. you may have inadvertently repeated patterns that you learned form your family or your culture. You may have suffered from the “grass is greener” thinking and had an affair when things become too routine. I often recommend to the couples that I work with to “have an affair with each other” and to remember all of the trouble that they went to to ensure romance in the beginning stages of the relationship.

These issues need to be examined as you begin your new life. It is important to remember not to disparage your ex to your children as that can be hurtful to them. You also don’t want to put them in the position of “choosing sides”. it is important to keep healthy boundaries about “adult” details of the relationship. The kids don’t need to know everything. Some things they should be shielded from.

Many people who survive much worse tragedies than divorce know the following fact. When you go through difficulties you have a choice. You can remain bitter and angry and continue to suffer or you can choose to learn from the experience, forgive yourself and your ex for the failure of the marriage, remember the good memories, be grateful if beautiful children were produced from the union and begin your new life!

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Therapy for Worrying | Three Steps to Reduce Worrying

I’ve often been asked about Therapy for Worrying in my Sherman Oaks office.

Do you drive yourself crazy playing the “What if” game? Do you try to foresee every possible catastrophe in order to head it off? If you find it difficult to relax, are easily angered, irritable and always three steps ahead of yourself, you are not alone, there is therapy for worrying.

We live in a culture that promotes “productivity”. Difficulties present in the economy may be at the source of some of this imbalance. Activity is at an all time high and we are paying a high price for not having enough “down time” Some of the valuable family meal time and opportunities to check in with each other in a relaxed manner have been lost. Time spent chatting with a neighbor improves the emotional atmosphere of a community. Children are overscheduled.

The cost involves loss on many levels. It affects the quality of relationships, family bonding, mental and physical health. If there is no escape from the “buzz” of intense, pressure filled activity, quite often, people feel justified in indulging in some excessive rewarding behavior at the end of it all. In a desperate effort to relieve the anxiety, people may use a bit too much alcohol, overeat, overspend or become addicted to computer games. The effects of the excessive behavior then causes stress on family and marital relationships and it becomes a vicious cycle.

Here are three ways to manage the anxiety that comes from dealing with our day to day stress.

  1. Self Care
  2. Prioritizing
  3. Setting up a support network

Self Care

Remember the basics that your mother taught you. Get enough sleep, eat your vegetables, take your vitamins and everything in moderation. Get your annual physicals so that should some health change occur, you have the best chance at accessing treatment at an early stage and oftentimes preventing a more serious problem. Get exercise, spend time with loved ones and have fun! Laughter really is good medicine as it actually changes brain chemistry, relaxes muscles and promotes healing. Let your anxiety be a signal that you are needing more self care.


Remember that you cannot do it all! Make a list of things to do daily, beginning with the absolute “non-negotiables”. In other words, things that must be done and then you can work your way down to activities that are optional and could possibly wait for another day. Make your list at a time when you are most relaxed so that you can think clearly. Also, be realistic about how much time it takes to complete things and don’t forget to schedule in breaks.

If you are having difficulty deciding which things to let go of, then ask yourself the following question to ascertain whether you are placing too much importance on a task. ” At the end of my life, how important will it be whether I have completed this task?”

Sort of puts getting to the cleaners in perspective, doesn’t it?

Create and Nurture a Support System

Having people around to both commiserate as well as to celebrate with us helps to lessen anxiety. Nurture relationships that support both personally as well as professionally. Sometimes we go through changes in relationships where people are not as accessible. In that case, it is sometimes helpful to contact a therapist for some brief assistance during that period. And above all, remember one important fact. Most people in our culture at this time are experiencing some anxiety related to the pressures of a faltering economy. The good news is that “We are not alone”.


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Addicted to Love? | Relationship Addiction

Do you tend to get involved quickly? Do you have relationship addiction? Have you gone from relationship to relationship? Are you like Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride where you don’t know how you like “your own eggs?” Do you find yourself in a relationship before actually getting to know someone?

People who are addicted to love end up projecting an ideal onto a relationship and often being disappointed when the reality of the relationship does’nt match witth the idealized version. The media does not help. Romantic movies give unrealistic messages and encourage idealized relationships where couples meet, become enmeshed and immediately end up happy together. Love songs which use language such as “I can’t live without you” or “My world is empty without you, babe”
basically describe and romanticize obsessive love.

In a normal relationship, some of this does happen. Of course in the beginning, it is very exciting and “infatuation” can seem like love. it IS possible that real love can develop from something that starts out as infatuation but the difference is, that time is allotted so that it can develop. Real bonding needs time to develop.

Romance or love addicts are loathe to spend the time slowly getting to know the other person because they refuse to give up the “high” of romantic love, lust or infatuation.

As with many addictions, denial is often at work. Many women report being frustrated with friends who seek advice from them about relationships. They say things like, “I don’t understand it, in all other areas, she proves to be intelligent and reasonable. At work, with fitness and health and with her friendships, but with this one issue, this very “pulled together” woman ends up acting like a teenager, over and over. She knows no logic.

Sometimes, people get “hooked” on the feeling of what they think is “being in love” when in fact, as in other addictions, this process is actually being used to avoid other issues. It could be anxiety about developing a relationship, fear of true intimacy and a sense of hopelessness about connecting in a healthy way.

These men and women who are caught up in this addiction have often not seen models of healthy relationships in their early years. in normal development, children get to see that in functional relationships, that is not perfect or exciting all the time. They get to see a healthy model of compromise and negotiation as well as commitment. They also get to see that good relationships take a lot of work and although love is important, that it is not the only element and certainly not the one that keeps people committed in a functional way. It is maturity, accepting that there will be things that you don’t like about your partner, that your roles may change from time to time and that commitment and flexibility are very important.

“Love Addicts” have typically either only seen terribly dysfunctional relationshps or social isolation. They may have seen violence or abuse whether physical or emotional and they may have an idealized version of a “perfect relationship” that will heal the effects of a difficult childhood. The problem is that at first, the infatuation appears to “fix it all”, but unfortunately it doesn’t last. So the beginning of a relationship fuels the “feel good” brain chemistry and they are off!

Individual treatment for people who become aware that they have this issue can be helpful. There are also 12 step programs such as SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous). So, if you are finding that you have a pattern of getting involved in these sorts of relationships, think about getting some professional help and beginning a better relationship with yourself first. As Whitney Houston said in one of her hit songs, you can learn to have “The Greatest Love of All”!

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HOW TO CHOOSE A THERAPIST | Therapist Sherman Oaks

Need a Therapist Sherman Oaks or and Los Angeles area? You know you need hep but where do you start? What kind of help?How do you know if someone is good, or more importantly, “a good fit”? There are many things to consider when choosing a therapist.

First, it is important to have a clear understanding of the professional qualifications of a therapist and what exactly the letters after their name really mean. What degrees/licenses do they hold?

An M.D. (medical doctor, as most are aware) is psychiatrist and is at the highest level of education of a therapist that you can see. However, this does not necessarily make this professional the best choice. For one thing, they will be the most expensive. In the 40’s and 50’s, most psychotherapy was done by psychiatrists and the most common modality was psychoanalysis. This took lots of time and money. Most people, these days are not capable or interested in this sort of therapy. These days few psychiatrists engage in extensive long term treatment. Mostly they focus on areas such as evaluation for possible hospitalization or the prescription of psychotropic medication.

Next are psychologists. They hold a Phd. in psychology. They have done some primary research as well as having had extensive education with regard to secondary research (studies, that others do). They are qualified to do testing.

Two other types of psychotherapists are LMFT’s and LCSW’s. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Clinical Social Workers hold Master’s degrees in their respective fields. Some therapists work especially with children or families. Some work exclusively with couples. Some work with groups or individuals. Some are generalists. Another issue to consider is what that person’s specialty or experience is and how long they have been in practice.

As in any profession, when someone specializes in one area, they will have more knowledge, experience and expertise as well as comfort and confidence in that area. So, as one psychiatrist states, “If I were on an elevator with a woman who suddenly went into labor, I could deliver the baby, but she would much rather have her obstetrician do it. ” Each field has it’s own regulatory board. The AMA, American Medical Association for doctors, the APA, the American Psychological Association for Phd’s. and for LCSW’s and LMFT’s, there is the BBS, Board of Behavioral Sciences.

And then, and this is most important, there is the “human factor”. This pertains to the “vibe” of the particular professional in question. Let’s say that you have checked the person out and that they come highly recommended, but that upon meeting them or speaking on the telephone, there is something “off” In other words, even the most accomplished, educated and successful psychotherapist may not be right for you. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS! If the first encounter goes badly, it is likely that it will not change. Most therapists do offer at least a 20 minute telephone session (gratis) so that you can check them out. Don’t be afraid to ask for their license number, their educational background and their experience.

Remember, even if you only work with this person for 3-4 months, it is a very personal relationship. It is important that you feel comfortable, so that you can make the most of the help that they can provide. You can ask your primary care physician as they are often a good resource for a referral. In fact it is probably good to get 3 referrals and compare how you feel with each of them. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a few tries to find the right fit. It is worth it!

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12 Step Therapy – What’s next? | Therapist in Los Angeles & Sherman Oaks

If you are searching for a Therapist in Los Angeles or Sherman Oaks, Linda Engel can help you with your 12 step therapy success.

So, you have finally committed yourself to your 12 step program (AA,NA, Al-anon, SLAA,OA). You have followed all the rules. You have gotten a sponsor, done your readings, attend meetings regularly and you are even at the point of being of service in that community, but somehow, something is missing.

Every once in a while, some of the symptoms that you have tried to manage for so long by self medicating begin to arise and become troublesome. People get caught up in addictive behavior for a variety of reasons. Some people may have a biological predisposition towards addiction. Hence, if you have had a biological relative (whether you were raised with them or not) who suffered from addiction, you may be more prone towards it than the general population.

There may be “modeling” of certain behaviors. For example, if you saw family or community members who typically coped with the stresses of life by excessive use of substances (alcohol, drugs, food) or behaviors (shopping, sex, gambling), then you will be more likely to succumb to those behaviors as well.

Multiple other factors can be involved. Undiagnosed learning disorders, add/adhd, difficulty accepting one’s sexuality, abuse, neglect or overindulgence during childhood. Overindulgence contributes to the “lie of addiction” which goes something like this. “I can’t stand this pain, hard work, difficult transition, etc. ”

At times, addictions are culturally sanctioned. As one alcoholic states, “When you work really hard, you have to go crazy once in a while”. There may be pressure at work/school to overindulge as a way of fitting in. As a college student recently told me, “In college, it is normal to behave as though you are alcoholic, these days. You’re weird if you don’t drink a lot”

12 step programs do address some of these issues, but at times there are deeper issues that remain. If a person is dually diagnosed (an addiction along with another disorder), they may be pressured by their

12 step community to ignore the other disorder. This can be dangerous.

Sometimes it takes a psychiatric professional to determine whether that person needs more intensive treatment like medication, individual psychotherapy or even temporary hospitalization in the case of suicidality or major mood or thought disorders.

Working with a therapist along with the 12 step program can be a very helpful combination. It is very important  for someone in a 12 step program to locate a therapist who has a healthy respect and familiarity with how the self help community works, including it’s limitations. A therapist of this sort can help guide an individual through times of crisis in which the self help program is not enough.

Conversely, working with a person who is involved in a 12 step program can make the therapy much easier. The two work very well in conjunction with each other to promote psychological health. So, why not take THE NEXT STEP and add psychotherapy with a 12 step therapist to your toolbag of recovery?

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Divorce Therapy Sherman Oaks & Encino | FOUR STEPS TO SURVIVING DIVORCE


Get the anger, frustration, hurt and fear of both your financial and emotional future out in a healthy way. This is often the “He’s a bastard/She’s a bitch” stage which is when you may want to tell anyone who wil listen how unfairly you have been treated. DO NOT go to friends/family members for comfort who have gone through bitter divorces and are still angry after many years. If you have children, be mindful of talking about the details of the divorce in their presence or even within earshot. This can be particularly painful for children if they hear their parents speaking disparagingly of each other. Remember, they are also devastated by the breakup of the family and you are talking about their other parent. Don’t make children feel as though they must “choose sides”.

Support groups, church, temple can be a good resource. If you fall into a major depression, particularly if you have feelings of hurting yourself, do not hesitate to speak with your doctor and get a referral for a good therapist or psychiatrist. Speaking wth friends or family members who are happy and well adjusted, whether they are “happily married” or “happily single” can be extremely comforting.


Resist the urge to overeat, drink excessively, to stop exercising and to isolate socially. If you belong to a religious, spiritual, athletic or social group, now is a good time to maintain your involvement. Don’t neglect medical care. During this highly stressful time, it is easy to skip medical checkups or to assign any physical symptoms only to the stress of the divorce. Check with your doctor to rule out medical issues.

Be careful driving. Often this is a time when people are distracted and unfocused and the risk for accidents can be higher. During the initial stages of divorce, DON’T DATE YET. Give yourself some time to process what went wrong in your relationship and how you would like to change your own behavior in order to ensure a healthier future relationship. You will probably be a lot more vulnerable and your selection of a new partner will be very different from when you are stronger.

Remember-All of this adjustment is temporary.

Good self care also includes resisting the urge to fight with your ex. When feelings of anger, frustration or hurt occur, call someone who is safe and trustworthy as well as nonjudgmental and “get it out”. Allow them to help you to calm down so that when you do speak with your ex, you are less reactive. Stick to the issue at hand rather than becoming emotional. Keep in mind that there is a reason that you are divorced and it usually involves no longer being able to negotiate differences.

The relationship must contain some healthy and respectful distance and boundaries. You are no longer spouses. If you have children, you are now “coparents”. Even if you do not have children, it is actually better for your mental health not to hold on to anger or to identify as a “victim”.The sadness of the loss must be accepted and grieved.


An example of a cognitive distortion usually involves any statement that you say to yourself in absolutes like:

I am a total failure.

I have no ability to select a good partner for myself.

I will never be able to have a healthy relationship.

It is all my/his/her fault.

I will be alone forever.

People will blame me for the divorce.

My children will not be able to survive this.

I will never get over my divorce.

If you can actually identify these ideas as faulty, you will be able to challenge them. This may be where your support system comes in. Sometimes it takes another person, a good friend or family member to remind you that there is still hope.


Maybe you always spent holidays with your in-laws. Maybe Valentine’s Day was very special between you and your spouse.

One woman began an “Orphan’s Thanksgiving” for friends who did not livenear their family, for those whose parents had passed and for anyone who was isolated for any reason. Another started a Valentine’s Day tradition where she invited all of her single girlfriends over, wined and dined them and gave them chocolates and flowers.

Begin new activities or hobbies. One woman always wanted to learn to salsa dancing but her husband was not interested, so now was her opportunity. A newly divorced man had always wanted to run a marathon but his wife felt that all of the training was too much time away and that it would be selfish. He was now free to do that. Traveling, learning a language,volunteering, remodeling your home are all things that can be beneficial to begining your new life. The bonus is that you end up meeting new people who like the same things that you do.

If you follow these guidelines, particularly if you are struggling with the after effects of a divorce, you too can be “happily divorced”.

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The White Sheep Syndrome | Family Therapy Sherman Oaks & San Fernando Valley

Sue comes from a frightening background. One which involves every sort of abuse imaginable. Surrounded by poverty, drugs and chaos, she was determined to make her life better and to escape her environment as soon as she possibly could. Her saving grace was her unusual and profound intelligence. She was always recognized by teachers and counselors as someone who would go far.

Go far, she did and thought that she had surpassed the effects of her humble beginnings except that it showed up in her relationships with her family and old friends. They were critical and challenged her constantly saying things like “I guess you think that now you are better than us”

She found herself loathe to admit her successes for fear of punishing comments. She would be self deprecating so as not to be intimidating.

She found that this limited her professionally as well as personally.

She was not satisfied with her current state and was highly ambitious but was afraid to reach her goals. She sought treatment to try to overcome the limitations that she felt that she was putting on herself both personally and professionally.

There are many Family Therapy Cases similar to this one. For example: the gang member who is traumatized that his mates could sexually assault a young girl.

He promptly quits the gang after trying and failing to save the girl and sits in his lonely room in the ghetto with police helicopters above him and gang wars just outside his house. He decides to study social work and completes a master’s degree in social work.

This results in him showing up in an auditorium before a houseful of professionals in full gang attire teaching about how to communicate with gang members.

The intellectual in an athletic family who gets little to no validation for his talents.

The adolescent who realizes he is gay in a homophobic environment.

The challenges for those afflicted with what I call “THE WHITE SHEEP SYNDROME” is this. Being a “White Sheep” is being the healthy member of an unhealthy family or community and the loneliness of both not being able to connect with those closest to you as well as the self doubt elicited by the lack of validation and role modeling.

Group support and modeling are very important to these people in order for them to become successful, fully. They need to find like minded people who can validate their struggles and mentors to inspire them. If we can identify these people before it is too late, we can help groom them into who they really are capable of being. So, if you have identified a “White Sheep” in your family or in your community, lend a helping hand so that they can realize their dreams and finally have the life that they deserve.