The Underlying Effects of COVID-19 from a Mental Health Perspective, in Comparison to the 1918 Flu Pandemic

I am a marriage and family therapist living in Metro Detroit during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I am frustrated. There is a dichotomy on social media, in which one group is concerned about the economy and their freedoms, and another group is concerned about their safety and saving lives. Both groups offer valid concerns, and I believe it is possible to be concerned about both of these things simultaneously. My goal in writing this article is not to start a debate. Social distancing is saving lives, and it is extremely frustrating to see people not abiding by social distancing guidelines in a protest at our state capital. However, fears about social distancing are not unwarranted. There have been articles written about the effect of lockdowns on the economy, and the concerning impact of lockdowns on women stuck in abusive homes. There are also plenty of articles out there about the importance of social distancing, what this is doing to flatten the curve, and what will happen if we lift these restrictions too soon. I am not an expert in that field, so my recommendation is to follow your state and CDC guidelines when it comes to COVID-19. But these topics are not what I came here to write about today.

Continue reading “The Underlying Effects of COVID-19 from a Mental Health Perspective, in Comparison to the 1918 Flu Pandemic”

Should You Be Dating? Differentiating Between Healthy Dating and Dating as a Coping Mechanism

A friend of mine requested that I write an article differentiating between dating in a healthy way, and dating as a coping mechanism or as a way to avoid the things going on in your life. He asked me, “How do I know when I am actually ready to start dating? I don’t want to give all my baggage to someone else, so when do I start dating again and know that it’s healthy for me? How do I know I’m not just avoiding being alone?” I have been mulling over this question for months, and I have put this blog post on the back-burner because I had no idea how to write about this. I tried to do some quick googling a few times, to see if anything was out there on this topic. To my surprise, I really couldn’t find anything. Continue reading “Should You Be Dating? Differentiating Between Healthy Dating and Dating as a Coping Mechanism”

The Potential Pitfalls of People-Pleasing in Our Relationships

Have you ever found yourself in a cycle of emotional overwhelm in your relationships? This could very well be due to the amount of emotional energy you’re putting into consistently pleasing the people around you. In using the term “relationships,” I’m not just pointing to the one we have with our significant other(s) – I’m talking about the relationships that exist in each area of our lives – family, friends, loved ones,  co-workers, YOURSELF, etc. These relationships can consume much of our time and energy – which those of us self-proclaimed people-pleasers irrationally think we have an infinite amount of! In case you haven’t reached self-proclamation, I’ll provide the harsh truth: you are one person who has the same amount of time in each day as every other human being on Mother Earth and you will only have so much energy to give to each day. Let’s take some time here to help ourselves better understand the potential pitfalls we are creating in our relationships by being people-pleasers.  Continue reading “The Potential Pitfalls of People-Pleasing in Our Relationships”

Meeting Your Metamour for the First Time

Meeting your partner’s other partner can be very stressful. It can be uncomfortable to spend time with the person whom you know is also dating your partner. For some people, meeting a metamour is a natural thing, and they aren’t phased by it. But most people may feel anxious, nervous, or even jealous as they consider meeting their metamour. They may feel as though their partner or metamour will be judging them, or feel that approval is needed from the metamour – especially if they are the newer partner. If you are feeling nervous about the prospect of meeting your metamour, here are some helpful tips! Continue reading “Meeting Your Metamour for the First Time”

Long-Distance Support Networks

Many kinds of people can be a part of your support network. Family, friends, partners, pets, neighbors, teachers, coaches, and clergy can all be part of your personal support system. A mental health clinician or a specific support group can also be a part of your support network. As you go through life, you will often gain new people in your support network, while others will fall away. Having a support system, no matter who it consists of, has been shown to be correlated with higher levels of well-being, and can even reduce stress, depression, and anxiety. Continue reading “Long-Distance Support Networks”

Metamour Relationships: Should You Be Friends with Your Partner’s Partner?

If you are currently in a polyamorous relationship, or are thinking of entering into a polyamorous relationship, it is likely that you will have one or more metamours at some point. Your metamour is someone who is also dating your partner, but with whom you are not also romantically or sexually involved with. For example, if Tanya and Derrick are both dating Sarah, but are not dating each other, Tanya and Derrick are metamours with one another. If Tanya is also dating Liz, and Derrick is married to Stephen, Liz and Stephen are also metamours with Sarah. In this example, Tanya, Derrick, Sarah, Liz, and Stephen all make up one polycule – a system of connected non-monogamous relationships, whether they are all dating or not. Continue reading “Metamour Relationships: Should You Be Friends with Your Partner’s Partner?”

The Fundamentals of Polyamory: Know Yourself

What are your beliefs about love and sex? What do you believe about relationships? How should you be treated by friends, family, and partners? How are your time management skills? What do you desire in an emotionally or physically intimate relationship? What are your relationship fears? What are your feelings about your own self-worth? What are your goals in life, and why are these your goals? Who has encouraged you to have these goals? Where did you learn your values? How do your values align with, or dis-align with, societal expectations and values? Continue reading “The Fundamentals of Polyamory: Know Yourself”

Gender Identity and Expression

If you are a mental health clinician, it is important to be aware of the difference between biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. It is also important to be familiar with various gender identities. If a client is struggling with their gender identity/expression, and does not feel comfortable discussing this subject with you, you are doing them a disservice as a clinician. In addition, your client should be able to speak about their own individualized gender experiences, and the therapeutic relationship may be strengthened when they have the ability to teach you about their own identity and gender process. However, you should have at least a basic understanding of gender identity and expression, and your client should not have to completely educate you on gender identity and expression.  Continue reading “Gender Identity and Expression”