Now that David Letterman is no longer on the air, I find myself missing his Top 10 Lists.  So I decided to come up with one of my own.  Below you'll find the 10 most popular reasons to see a therapist.  While they may be a bit tongue and cheek, there's actually a lot of truth to them.  Hope you enjoy it!
#10  You're not so sure that what happens in Vegas really stays in Vegas.

      Although you may have many friends who act as supportive listeners, a professional therapeutic relationship is the only place where confidentiality is a guarantee.  Having that assurance can really make a difference when you're discussing difficult topics.  It also permits you to be completely free with your words, so you can talk about what's really on your mind without any negative repercussions.  When you take the time to talk things out, you gain new insights.  This leads to you having more options and making better choices in life.

#9  You've been lacking a sense of guidance since selling your Magic 8 ball on Ebay.

     In an age of seemingly endless choices, making a decision can feel overwhelming.  While a therapist isn't there to tell you what to do, they possess the skills to help you understand what decisions are best for you.  Too often people make decisions in haste, in an attempt to fast forward through an uncomfortable process.  Talking through your options with a therapist, makes the process less daunting.  It also increase your chance of making a decision that yields the best possible outcome for your desired goal.

#8  You can't get anyone else to ask, "...and how does that make you feel?"

     Psychotherapists are often teased for regularly inquiring about their client's feelings, but they do this for good reason.  Emotional awareness is the first step in self regulation and the cornerstone of emotional intelligence.  Most individuals have difficulty naming their feelings outside of "mad", "bad", "glad" or "sad".  When you engage in a therapeutic relationship you develop a new vocabulary which increases your emotional intelligence.  This helps you articulate your feelings more accurately and allows you to experience a broader range of positive emotions.

#7  Last time you flew, the airlines's surcharge for your emotional baggage cost more than your actual plane ticket.

    Did you know that every experience you've ever had is stored in your unconscious?  While you may not consciously remember most of them, your brain does and it filters every new experience through the old ones.  In most situations this has no tangible effect on your daily routine, but if you are experiencing an area of life in which you fell stuck, hopeless, depressed or anxious it's best to consult with a therapist.  When you're stuck in a certain behavioral pattern or emotional state, it's a signal from your unconscious that it's in need of attention.  Sometimes you just can't move forward until you clean up the past.

#6  You have a feeling that buying that convertible wasn't necessarily the most cost effective way to get in touch with your inner child.

    One of the biggest differences between adults and children is the amount of time each spends in play.  When deprived of play, the soul becomes dehydrated killing off imagination, hope and possibility.  Psychotherapy provides a safe atmosphere to reengage with your lost dreams and awaken that sense of awe you may have left behind in childhood.  It may also save you from an expensive impulse purchase you'd quickly regret.

#5  You're so busy running around, it's the only way you can get 50 minutes to lay on a couch.

    People mistakenly assume that psychotherapy is only for people with problem.  While it is true that most people don't seek treatment until something is truly troubling them, engaging in talk therapy during any stage of life is the best way to prevent emotional and relational problems from occurring.  Talking reduces stress, increases self awareness and brings about relational satisfaction for those who engage in it.  Therefore, it's probably one of the most loving and generous gifts you can give yourself whether you're struggling with a relational issue or trying to prevent an emotional one.

#4  According to your latest visit to Web MD, you have symptoms related to every disorder listed on their site.

    Did you know that doctors believe more than 85% of all visits to their offices are a result of stress induced illnesses?  Stress is toxic to your body as well as your immune system and can wreak havoc on your emotions.  Engaging in on going talk therapy, helps you release pent up negative feelings, which fuel stress.  It also set you on a course to take control of your life rather than feeling overwhelmed by it.

#3  Thank to the current job market, it looks like your children will never move out.

    Although spending time together as a family can be pleasant, at times to much togetherness can lead to tension and arguments.  With many young adults living at home these days, it can be difficult to navigate boundary issues, privacy concerns, as well as financial arrangements.  Talking with a therapist can help ensure that the family home remains a peaceful plae of community rather than a den of discourse.

#2  You're spending so much time texting, twittering and emailing, you've forgotten what it's like to have an actual conversation.

    As we rely more and more on technology to make our lives easier, research indicates that doing so is having a negative effect on our relationships.  Our capacity for empathy is diminishing, along with our ability to concentrate for longer periods of time.  Talk therapy strengthens these skills because the process is a right brain dominant activity.  After all, what could be more human than having a face to face conversation?

#1  Although you swore you'd never do it, it's clear you're turning into your mother.

There's just no getting around the fact that all roads lead back to mother.  While every relationship we engage in leaves some sort of mark on us, none is as influential and long lasting as mother's.  Exploring your "mother issues" with a professional is undoubtedly the best way to heal your emotional wounds and increase your capacity for intimacy in all other relationships.

Would you like to experience more happiness?  Of course you would!  Who couldn't use more happiness in their life? 

Research has proven that happiness is a skill.  It has nothing to do with luck, chance or even your circumstances (as many people believe).  It's a skill.  Which means the more you practice, the better you'll get.  So, are you ready to add more happiness to your life?  I'm going to share 10 easy things you can start doing immediately that will do just that.  The best part is that they're all FREE.  Now I know that alone, should make you feel happier.

Be sure to get some form of exercise every day.  After puberty, your brain slows down on the amount of dopamine it produces.  Since dopamine is the chemical responsible for pleasure, biologically speaking, it becomes more difficult to feel happy the older you get.  Exercising, however releases large doses of dopamine, which increase your brain's ability to feel happiness.

Take time to smell the roses. I mean that literally. Rutgers University recently conducted a study and found that students who wrote term papers in a lightly floral scented room used three times as many happiness related words than those students who wrote their papers in an odorless room.

Do at least one thing differently each day.  Brain research has proven the old saying true.  Variety really is the spice of life.  Whether you try something completely new each day, or you do something you've done a thousand times, but you do it differently, changing things up , even slightly, increases your capacity for happiness.

Practice random acts of kindness.  When you do kind things for other people, it stimulate the part of your brain that experiences pleasure, so from the brain's perspective it's as if the kind act is actually happening to you.  Isn't that interesting?

Wear bright colors. Next time you're in a bad mood, consider a wardrobe change.  One study found that people who wore bright colored clothing scored significantly higher in the happiness category than individuals who wore gray or muted clothing.  Yellow, by the way, scored as the happiest color. 

Listen to happy music.  Music stimulates your brain's nucleus accumbens (the part of the brain that perceives reward).  As a result, when you listen to upbeat music your mood becomes instantly elevated because the brain believes it's getting rewarded.

Make time to play.  There's a reason why children are so happy.  They spend most of their time playing.  So, if you spend even a small part of your day doing something you truly enjoy, you'll feel happier too.

Nurture close intimate relationships.  You are wired to connect, so intimate relationships play a big role in the amount of happiness you experience.  It isn't necessarily the amount of friends you have, but the quality of the connection. Even if you only nurture one or two close relationships in your life, you'll be happier than someone with a boat load of menial friendships.

Laugh hard and laugh often.  It's hard not to feel happy when you're laughing isn't it?  In fact, it might just be impossible.  Laughter feels good and makes you happier because it releases endorphins into your body and oxygen into your blood stream.  It's the perfect stress reliever and it's just plain fun! 

Practice gratitude.  I've heard it said that "all happy people are grateful people and ungrateful people cannot be happy".  When you take time to focus on the things you're grateful for, you initiate a shift in the brain which causes it to magnify the things you are bringing to its attention.  The end result is that you feel fuller, more satisfied and just plain happier.

So, next time you're feeling kind of blue, or you're fed up with all the frustrating things in life that are out of your control, I hope you'll remember that happiness isn't something that has to elude you.  It isn't a matter of luck or chance, it's a skill that you need to practice.  You can be happy and you deserve to be happy!  But because it's an internal state, you need to choose it for yourself.  You can have as much happiness as you want.  Go for it!



    Christine Slobodin, LCSW is a psychotherapist who maintains a private practice in Somerville, NJ.  She helps people, just like you, reduce their stress and increase their capacity for love, happiness and satisfaction.  You can contact her by phone at   (908) 927-9333.


    July 2014