Does anyone deserved to be publicly shamed?

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To Thine Own Self Be True A quote from Harriet Lerner

Our Conversations invent us. Through our speech and our silence, we become smaller or larger selves. Through our speech and our silence we diminish or enhance the other person, and we narrow or expand the possibilities between us. How we use our voice determines the quality of our relationships, who we are in the world, and what the world can and might become.
From The Dance of Connection

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On Being Authentic Soul Mates

Authentic soul mates hear the fears and honor the tears
both inside oneself and on the face and in the heart of significant others.

They let go of rage both inside and on the faces and in the heart of significant others.

They hear what’s near and honor the joy of the present inside oneself and the full presence of significant others.

They do the Hokey Pokey from moment to moment – that dance of joy and love because that really IS what it’s all about.

Authentic soul mates put their

Whole Selves in…

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For Deep Restful Sleep

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The Secret to Desire in a Long Term Relationship

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Why Forgive Oneself?

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The Best 5 minute explanation of Collaborative Divorce

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How not to have an authentic conversation

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Understanding Stress

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Wed, 9/11 I will lead the post film discussion at Loew’s Boston

Susan Granger’s review of ‘Out of the Clear Blue Sky’

 Published 3:00 pm, Friday, September 6, 2013
On Sept. 11, there’s a one-night, nationwide theatrical event, “Out of the Clear Blue Sky,” in which documentary filmmaker Danielle Gardner relates the story of Cantor Fitzgerald, the Wall Street bond trading firm that lost 658 employees during the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.

Formed in 1945 by Bernard Gerald Cantor and John Fitzgerald, the corporate headquarters occupied the 101st to 105th floors of the North Tower, above the impact zone of the hijacked airliner. Cantor Fitzgerald lost more than two-thirds of its 960 personnel that dreadful day, representing one-fourth of the 3,000 people who died.

President/CEO Howard Lutnick was out of the office, taking his son to his first day of kindergarten, but his brother, Gary, was among those killed. This documentary traces two interconnected stories: the staggering impact on the bond business and the heartbreaking relationship between Howard Lutnick and the distraught, grieving families.

While Lutnick pledged to distribute 25 percent of the firm’s profits for the next five years to victims’ families and committed to pay for 10 years of health care, he felt forced to suspend the deceased workers’ paychecks in order to do that. Lutnick was vilified in the press. Yet in 2006, the company completed its promise, having distributed $180 million, along with an additional $17 million from a relief fund administered by Lutnick’s sister, Edie.

In conjunction with the Port Authority of New York, Cantor Fitzgerald filed a civil lawsuit against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for allegedly providing money to the al-Qaeda hijackers, but most of the claims against Saudi Arabia were dismissed on Jan. 18, 2005.

Having lost her brother, Doug, that fateful day, Danielle Gardner was determined to expose the very real, mostly unknown, private side to that very public experience, noting: “This film inspires a strong reaction in our audiences and compelling post-screening conversation and commentary.”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Out of the Clear Blue Sky” is a compelling 8, an insider’s poignant view of the harrowing tragedy.

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Movie in Your Mind Exercise by Elisha Goldstein

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Forgiveness Meditation from Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

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Seminar on Divorce

Are you trying to protect your children from the stress
of separation or divorce? The Metro West Practice
Group of the Massachusetts Collaborative Law
Council, Inc. wants to help. Please come to our
October 3rd Open House from 7:00 to 8:45 p.m. at the
Watertown Library at 123 Main Street in Watertown.
You will hear from Attorney Debra L. Smith and
Collaborative Coach Dr. Lynn K. Cooper on “Helpful
Hints in Co-Parenting in Separation or Divorce” and
“How the Collaborative Process Can Keep you Away
from the Courts”.

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3 reasons for Infidelity

There are personal, interpersonal and societal contexts for infidelity.
In the midst of breaking a promise to one’s partner – and infidelity is just that — one is not reflecting much. Anger may be a driver, vaguely registered, since a recent fight unresolved seems like a good excuse to justify feelings of neglect or one’s right to trample upon the other’s trust. And you may well, again unwittingly, be following the precedent of a previous family role model. So now your personal loyalty to one’s extended family overtakes your commitment to putting loyalty to your partner first.

Beyond the personal act, one must consider the pay off in creating an interpersonal triangle: it is usually a stopgap to reduce the tension of hanging in an important conversation with one’s partner. People need to learn to keep the conversation about intense feelings for just a few more seconds in some cases. That requires courage.

Through the media, TV, Radio and Movies and much written literature, society actually encourages breaking rather than keeping the promise. How many happily married celebrities get the ink and the screen time? And with the rise of secular over religious institutions where do we get messages about maintaining dignity and marital durability?

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Radio Interview re the Dance Steps in Language for success in business and life

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Musings: Why I love what I do

Solving objective math problems back in junior high school was so much fun. It was about the relationships of one set of numbers to others. Now I am enjoying solving subjective, people puzzles or human instead of number relationships.

In my huge junior high there were future doctors, lawyers and prisoners. No surprise. These pupils gathered together from wide ranging socio-economic and ethnic cohorts. Now I interact happily with a similarly diverse array of high achieving or high conflicting students.

I was still fascinated with making sense of algebra equations during my high school years. I had relinquished the passing dream of a related Civil Engineering career, on which I’d reported some years before. I was still destined though to be a builder – a relationship builder and a metaphorical “bridge builder.”

In high school, I found pleasure in hanging out with some incredibly intense coaches and ball players. Often those coaches were teaching with an old-school, fear based communication style. The critical, screaming coach taught some players to

  • develop new habits,
  • mesh with team mates and
  • see the court or field with greater awareness of self and other.

By the practicing of new and evolving habits, I noted many of the players could learn poise in their own skin. Some could also maintain equanimity in relationship with others.

It was much later that I began to understand the releasing or limiting impact (on performance in any situation) of the old relationship patterns. I speak of the patterns practiced with or modeled after one’s family of origin system. Not everyone could prosper with equanimity — without a lot of extra, personal, neutral coaching, and again, repeated practice.

As a cub reporter for the ProJo and sports editor for the school newspaper, I loved asking the hard questions. One must get the relevant answers in order to report on successful and not so successful combat. I started to learn then how to be gracious and confident in interviews. Exceptional journalism requires expert asking and listening, just like therapy and coaching.

No surprise that I now crave decoding, restoring and rebuilding relationships for and with combatants that are tired of the same old recurring arguments. I help them replace shame with pride. I help them reduce unbearable tension with serenity. It is such a privilege to ask the right questions, with the necessary respect and neutrality. And to be able to do so with a wide range of earnest clients!

That makes every day exciting and different.

Some just want to return to effective functioning. Others, including couples, parents, managers and other leaders, seek extraordinary team work. Fifty years after Mr. G’s problem-posing geometry class, I am still thrilled with the process of finding solutions to challenging, fascinating problems. There was never an equally interesting career. It is fun for me to artfully elicit the best from the human equation.

I am so lucky to become part of my client’s spiritual journey from pain to joy, as each client co creates more effective conversations with the ones they love or lead.

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Words Matter

Consider the effect that your words have on others:

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Pulling Together: Geese in V Formation


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AL Pacino gives a speech to his team


In this excerpt from Any Given Sunday, Al Pacino gives a speech

to his team before their last game. What he says also applies to couples and

families who need to pull together as a team to create or restore a culture of trust:

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“Identifying Your Unique Talents and Values”.

Today at noon I conduct my first webinar for the Brown Alumni Association’s Executive/Career Coach Webinar series. My title is “Identifying Your Unique Talents and Values”. I look forward to offering this presentation at other venues in the near future.

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Unique Talents, Strengths, and Values

We talk about unique talents, strengths and values. We rave about following our dreams and passions.

But how many of us really know who we are? How many of us have actually stopped to create a vision, a guiding light at the end of the tunnel that will express our purpose?  Do we stop to ponder, articulate and think about our values while making decisions?  In searching for the perfect job, for example, do we stop often enough to think about what we would do if working for free?  If we desire control over our own life, then we need to be accountable to creating that sort of life.  We need to follow the inspiring story of such single-minded performers as Steve Mazan. who actualized his possibly dying Self from the heart of the concentric circle where his strengths, talents and values came together.

I just finished reading the galley of his touching book, Dying to Get on Letterman, a comedian with cancer, wondering if he would make it more than five years post diagnosis. Here is a man with a passion to make it in stand up. Like most stand up comics, he knew how to measure success in the field: you get the green light to a late night TV show.  Now, not yet in mid life, Steve’s dream became compounded by a deadline now likely needing to be closer than ever before.

He had a passion for making people laugh: to give them a temporary moment to simply forget their troubles. Beyond humor, he demonstrates in this exciting read, many values: perseverance, hard work, reciprocity in relationships, mastery, and unflappability. As the famously successful college basketball coach, John Wooden, liked to say, “failure of preparation is preparation for failure.” Well this performer inspires and touches us in sharing his journey where undaunted, successful preparation was preparation for success.  Read it and weep.

The book will be published in October, 2011 by HCI. And the documentary of the same name has already won awards and hopefully the producers will collect sufficient funds to be shown in cities beyond festivals in New York, Los Angeles and Cleveland. Check out and make a contribution at the following link:

And note my upcoming Career Webinar for Alumnae of Brown University –

 Identifying Your Unique Talents and Values

It takes a combination of self knowledge and relationship building savvy to find the right career path. During this presentation we will talk about how to focus on your strengths, clarify your values and seek a career aligned with your skills. Understanding your innate qualities will prepare you for a successful career search.

Shel Miller ’69, founder, Executive Perspective
Friday, December 16, 12 – 1 p.m. (ET)

Learn more

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TED talk about awesome

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Bashbat Advertising Dep.

For your daily dose of amazing, quirky, great, inventive, ingenious and simply awesome advertising.


  • (editor’s note: I have actually seen these hanging around The Netherlands and they are quite impressive.) “I wish we never had children. What you say during divorce lasts forever.” Advertising Agency: 180 Amsterdam, NetherlandsExecutive Creative Director: Andy FackrellCopywriters: Marianne Riphagen, Jessica HartleyArt Director: Andy FackrellSenior TV Producer: Chayenne de WittePrint Producer / Art buyer: Maren HermansSenior Digital Producer: Anna StolyarovaAccount Manager: Jessica HartleyPlanner: Simon NeateDigital Planner: Mandy GrahamPost Print Producer: Marlon LeeRetoucher: Jan-Willem DijkstraHead of Studio: Mark KennyGraphic Designer: Markus SabatlikProject Manager: Anne-Marie van OverveldDigital Art Directors: Nadege DeCastro, Matthew SteenburgDigital Producer: Colin PueschnerUser Experience Director: Jonathan ConatyDigital Copywriters: Jessica Hartley, Marianne RiphagenDigital Copywriter: Sophie TopBusiness Affairs Directors: Chris Barrand, Emilie Douque, Justine Young

    (editor’s note: I have actually seen these hanging around The Netherlands and they are quite impressive.)

    “I wish we never had children.
    What you say during divorce lasts forever.”

    Advertising Agency: 180 Amsterdam, Netherlands
    Executive Creative Director: Andy Fackrell
    Copywriters: Marianne Riphagen, Jessica Hartley
    Art Director: Andy Fackrell
    Senior TV Producer: Chayenne de Witte
    Print Producer / Art buyer: Maren Hermans
    Senior Digital Producer: Anna Stolyarova
    Account Manager: Jessica Hartley
    Planner: Simon Neate
    Digital Planner: Mandy Graham
    Post Print Producer: Marlon Lee
    Retoucher: Jan-Willem Dijkstra
    Head of Studio: Mark Kenny
    Graphic Designer: Markus Sabatlik
    Project Manager: Anne-Marie van Overveld
    Digital Art Directors: Nadege DeCastro, Matthew Steenburg
    Digital Producer: Colin Pueschner
    User Experience Director: Jonathan Conaty
    Digital Copywriters: Jessica Hartley, Marianne Riphagen
    Digital Copywriter: Sophie Top
    Business Affairs Directors: Chris Barrand, Emilie Douque, Justine Young

    (Source: bashbatads)

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    A Bowen family systems coach in Collaborative Divorce Practice


    This article highlights the approach of Woody Mosten in Collaborative Law interdisciplinary Training re emotional outbursts. He demonstrates client self-soothing. And he reframes the highly laden emotional issue into an agenda item thereby pointing to next possible steps. The coach works with the wife. The official Divorce Coach works with the husband. The plan rekindles hope: moving the reorganizing family from a shame-based to a pride-based family system. The writer praises the Collaborative Law mode for solving a Public Health issue: healing the trauma for the many children facing divorce.

    In a recent interdisciplinary training in Boston, Woody Mosten aptly prefaced one role play of a Collaborative Divorce intervention with a shout out to Bowen family systems. Mosten demonstrated his role playing with the wife after a Collaborative session where a particular exchange takes place. Here are the high lights of that exchange:

    Last week, says wife, you were late (disrespectful) to pick up Joey and Janine and you did not pick up your cell phone again. So I blew up in the message I left to you. I am now embarrassed that you put my message on She then makes threats about keeping him from the children and about spending money on the house. Husband then calls her “Miss High and Mighty” and  notes she would not listen to the fact that the schedule was not working for him. He tells her that her friends and family should  know who she really is by hearing her nasty message to him.

    Bowen concepts address the way tensions are worked out indirectly through chronic conflict, under and over responsibility and the triangle-ing in by the dyad of the children. Accountability of the responsible individual alone is lost or abrogated. The audience was at the edge of their seats wondering how Mosten would disrupt the negative sequence of clients’ communication. Some of us wondered about the effect of the parents’ immature action on their children. One might assume that one or the other, or both of them would be absorbing the parental tension. Bowen emphasized the importance of finding one’s own accountable Self in one’s family of origin in order to then be able to help others strengthen their sense of self.

    Here is a brief synopsis of one Bowen concept of Differentiation of Self. Bowen, who, eschewed Diagnosis, preferred to see individuals as human beings with differing (but unmeasureable on any literal scale) amounts of higher Self and pseudo self. The Pseudo, outer self interacts with others in the world on the basis of charged emotional reactivity, whereas the Basic Self responds from one’s principles in a manner well thought out and cognizant of one’s impact upon others. We all emerge from our family of origin during that developmental stage approaching post adolescence as we partner with a potential spouse — to create a new, separate family branch – containing a comparable level of differentiatiated Basic Self in proportion to Pseudo self. The Pseudo self is usually much larger. One might strive over many years to get to know oneself better in order to slightly further enlarge her Basic Self.

    The term differentiation is meant to elicit the biological reality of starting as undifferentiated cellular material and evolving towards more and more defined parts making up our body. Dan Siegel has helped us understand the difference between responding responsibly and with self awareness from one’s Basic Self by referring to the more reasoned experience produced by (inputed through and outputted by) the prefrontal cortex. Bowen refers to the undifferentiated Reptilian brain or as Siegel might posit: the amygdala and connected brain stem. The amygdala is the seat of fight, flight or freeze. The more differentiated (or mature or poised or unflappable) we are as facilitators, the more likely are we to be able to engage the “higher road,” differentiated inner, true Basic Self of our client.

    Alas, we all face, when in the trenches, the emotionality within ourselves and inside our screaming clients and we need the ability and experience to either not react intensely in the first place, or be able to quickly talk ourselves down the moment we have reacted. That means, for example, we might want to forgo diagnosing our clients and pointing more fingers of blame as we might be tempted to forget the mutuality of our couples’s dancing and want to claim that “she” is more borderline than he and therefore less reasonable! We think so in the heat of the moment and that non systemic manner of thinking sticks both in our craw and mind for weeks. Busting through our own fight-flight-freeze process is so much easier when we maximize the dialog amongst our Collaborative team, even as our clients inadvertently do everything to help us forget that we even have a functional collaborator as we get pushed into the alligator swamp and find ourselves up to our butts.

    How do we stay focused on the original goal — to drain the swamp?

    If we are ever going to be able to hold our self accountable to our highest principles as human beings we need to literally practice equanimity in the face of disaster, particularly in the moment that we over catastrophise the apparent data (e g. challenges or insults) of our closest intimate enemies, friends and leaders. We need to think and observe as we respond, and, of course, take heed of rather than ignore or exaggerate what our thinking brain is observing. We need to temper our intensity and remember that a feeling can be expressed quietly without Hollywood drama. We need to see the bridge that could be climbed with our 5 month old baby in our arms, as did the lady in Japan hearing about the approaching wave of the recent Tsunami.

    The amygdala is probably overactive for years in the shame-based (now divorcing) family dealing with chronic conflict. The pre-frontal cortex takes a few more seconds to perceive our environment and our presumed and co-created reality. In order to be the artist who helps our clients to create a safe and healing reality from moment to moment, we must practice and teach patience. We work hard now in order to do better later.

    Bowen notes that individuals at certain levels of differentiation choose birds of a similar flock when they fall in love. They bring to each other the unfinished emotional business of their own families along with their family’s best practices. That means they meet each other at a certain level of anxiety that Bowen refers to as Chronic. Keeping that history in mind is very useful in understanding any interruption in the natural life cycle where acute anxiety threatens to flood us and create an overwhelming overlay of immediate pain on top of one’s well practiced habits, reflective of that Chronic Anxiety. This may be seen during the crisis of divorce and other losses leading to potential breakdown. The less practice we have had over our own living years and over the generations (our models and our source of trickled down unresolved angst and conflict) in dealing with stress at the intersection of Chronic and Acute anxiety, the more explosive our actions may become.

    Witness the Jared Loughner shooting of the Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, from Arizona or the Alec Baldwin’s Internet splattered telephonic message outburst at his daughter in the midst of angst with his ex wife. Witness the halls of any prison filled with those who unleashed their shame and humiliation on others who dared to either “dis” them directly or provide them an unwitting stand-in target for those Dis-ers in the criminal’s own family. I am not suggesting that we hold the Loughner or Baldwin families responsible for the actions of those they sired, but that that each actor needs to understand his choices in a wider family context. Familiar methods of denying and projecting conflicts onto others and then cutting off from them lead to replications of unstable emotional triangles and repetitive conflict creation rather than solution. Nuclear family triangles interlock with intergenerational family triangles and again into wider societal triangles as well.

    In the training, we see Woody directing the client in pain by addressing her thinking brain in the moment after her outburst. This dyadic interaction or caucus is not about negotiating positions but focuses instead on a return to rationality. I saw that Woody was thinking Bowen systems in his artistic intervention. It is about developing equanimity and appealing to rationality rather than emotionality in helping the client regaining a sense of functional self that can deal from principle rather than from overwhelming rage and shame. Mosten models both a peacemaking attitude while providing examples of peace making language for his client. Without such coaching, the system will always put pressure on the individual to return to her previous role in the dance. A crucial piece involves his identifying with her shame and anger at her husband and at herself for “losing it” and being unfair. First he helped her by focusing on how the husband should be held accountable in doing a number of things, including arranging for the You Tube piece to be taken off the Internet. Then he appealed to her principled self in helping her plan a direct apology to him for having blown up at him. Appealing to her via her pre-frontal thinking cortex, he nudged her to a self reflective pose and to a courageous plan that would ultimately result in her soothing herself even while in the presence of her husband later.

    From the Bowen perspective one thus educates the client in how to better manage the long standing emotionally rigidified triangle – in this case with her husband and other key family players. Yes, they have chosen to distance via divorce, but we can still help them from further extremity, namely creating long term cut off which would freeze the emotional development of their children even further.

    Bowen taught that the smallest stable unit was the Triangle rather than the Individual in the system.
    A system is a conglomerate of interlocking triangles that contain chronic and acute anxieties which are often tossed about like a hot potato among nuclear family members. In mediating a divorce situation, with a coach and two attorneys, there are a number of interlocking triangles to be managed. And these triangles in turn are interlocking with those of the nuclear and original prior generational families of the participants. Tension is transmitted down the generations and the nuclear divorcing family projects its tensions onto the children, who like the parents may end up with physical or emotional problems as a result of stress. Any in the family could express the tension in the form of extreme conflict or of excessive dependency manifest via extreme closeness or distance. The extreme form of distance is Cut-Off (of one or more members) which could lead to inability of the divorcing family to continue to develop well in its re-organized form. Cutoffs also occur across generations leaving the newest nuclear family with more pressure towards intense closeness, often manifested by the marital couple in a fused under- and over- responsible reciprocity.

    In my mind, he also demonstrated tools that could have been culled from Glaser’s Reality Therapy, Gestalt Therapy and other approaches simply dedicated to forgiveness, as in the work of Fred Luskin. Glaser believed that at the heart of the change process one provides a significant neutral, empathic other to the client and then creates a call to action. He always ended a session with a clarification of the client’s plan. Gestalt Therapy addresses healing by dealing actively with unfinished business using creative techniques such as the Mosten role play, where the therapist offers one’s ideal alter ego commentary – a healing commentary that can be accepted or modified by the otherwise stuck client. According to Gestalt Therapy theory, one needs to be able to balance between contact with others and withdrawal into one self. In this regard one might highlight the need for a client to develop a rhythm, working with one’s attorney or coach both individually and together with one’s significant other. When one is allowed to withdraw from the spouse, what better use of that time than to think about recovery of both self and the relationship connection than by figuring out how to forgive and become open to being forgiven.

    I, too, believe in the importance of demonstrating such a multi-theoretical approach buoyed by a large tool box of technique to educate and direct our clients. We need to engineer the right environment for containing excess emotionality and actualizing healing capacity in both the individual and nuclear family’s physiological system. I learned that the Mindsight Institute of Dan Siegel, a proponent of neuroplasticity and of understanding the biological roots of empathy, is located a block away from Woody’s abode. Either by osmosis, observation or dialog, Dan’s thinking has gratefully infiltrated Woody’s.

    We see Woody utilizing a number of therapeutic approaches typical of practitioners who are active coaches. It is facilitative coaching of self-reflection, not traditional therapy which focuses on recovering and amplifying emotions and counter transference reactions to be analyzed over time. He is using the Bowen approach to recovery from a natural tendency to regress in response to an emotional outburst of one’s own — in lock step with the rage of one’s partner. He is appealing to one’s pre-frontal cortex so as to draw out one’s integrity and higher principles, such as forgiveness and accountability, in the midst of pain caused by an eruption from the Reptilian brain. He is engineering and structuring the environment to allow for the dyad to consider a dialog that might reduce rather than further increase anxiety. He is inviting one out of their Rabbit Hole. It is facilitation of both relationship process and of the individual’s crawl up to her higher Self. He functions at times as a neutral member in an emotional triangle rather than be pulled into replicating the rigid, private coalitions — as in the unstable triangles of dysfunctional shame-based families where one reflexively engages anyone in the world against one’s partner in the service of temporary tension reduction without concern for long term resolution.

    From a Public Health perspective, Bill Beardslee has spent decades researching how to support children of depressed parents. He notes that 20 per cent of the population experiences a major depressive episode in their lifetime. Traumatized parents, wading through divorce, are also providing great risk for their children, especially when the chronic marital conflict that has been robbing them of psychic energy is carried forward in the post divorce scene with no attempt by litigating attorneys to focus on a healing emotional process. Following are Beardslee’s Core Principles of Intervention to support children and promote resiliency in families facing the trauma of a depressed parent:

    • Constructing a coherent narrative with the past or present and a focus on the future that involves hopes and dreams for the family and for the children
    • Emphasizing strength and resilience
    • Breaking the silence
    • Self reflection and shared reflection

    Anyone present at the Mosten Training in March would see that these same core principles are at work in Collaborative Practice. Thankfully we now have sophisticated family law attorneys working in tandem with psychologists and other trained coaches to apply these principles to parents facing another Public Health issue: the trauma of divorce.

    Beardslee, Bill (2011) Lessons Learned in the Development and Implementation of Strategies to Strengthen Families Facing Adversities, Especially Parental Depression Boston: Power Point presentation to Longwood Grand Rounds.

    Fagan, J and Shepherd, I. (1970) Gestalt Therapy Now: Theory, Techniques, Applications. Maine: The Gestalt Journal Press.

    Gilbert, Roberta (2006).The Eight Concepts of Bowen Theory. Falls Church and Basye, Virginia: Leading Systems Press.

    Glasser, Robert (1975). Reality Therapy: A New Approach to Psychiatry. Ithaca, New York: Colophon Books.

    Luskin, Frederic (2007). Forgive for Love: The Missing Ingredient for a Healthy and Lasting Relationship. New York: HarperOne.

    Siegel, Daniel (2010). Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation. New York: Bantam Books.

    Mosten, Forrest S. (2009) Collaborative Divorce Handbook: Helping Families Without Going to Court. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Mosten Forrest S. and Lund, Mary (2008) Effective Caucus Strategies: Building on the Work of Dr. Murray Bowen (PowerPoint Presentation), Southern California Mediation Association Annual Conference.

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    How to Be Alone

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    Divorce Happens Video

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    The Human Costs and Benefit of Separation

    Let’s start with the known costs of failure born of the macho mindset. Then we will seek the main benefit of suddenly having to face family law issues. In the 1993 book, Man Enough, Frank Pittman explained the costs of a certain type of masculinity involving men learning to be philanderers (who can’t make or keep commitments), contenders (who feel driven to compete) and controllers. Does the name Tiger Woods ring a bell?

    In his (post Masters Tournament) time off from working, what might he practice regarding his private life? There are benefits inherent in taking a break from contending, philandering and controlling (e.g. his wife’s life script). The main benefit from the hiatus in his marriage may be the opportunity to finally find him Self through a mindful contemplation of his family of origin scripts.

    He might redefine what it means to find pride in emulating his dad. Perhaps with a new found loyalty to his positive Self rather than to dad’s ego, he might practice balance, conflict prevention, and find that Buddhist middle road between asceticism and extreme self pleasuring. What else more positive might it mean to be a Wood – other than to loyally and unmindfully play out the philandering script of his forebear?

    Divorce can become a social dis-ease that keeps on seeding losses from generation to generation. The infectious aspect of this dis-ease is based on seeing oneself as a victim of his/her former partner, modeling just the way a prior parent lived life. You re-create a dysfunctional marriage and evoke a familiar blame. I would suggest instead experiencing compassion for the imperfect, incomplete partner that you and your mate are and will always be. As a carrier for this dis-ease, you otherwise plant a divorce process from the moment of engagement without even knowing it.

    Young and adult children continue to pay in loss of self-esteem for the unresolved angst of their grand-parents as well as of their parents. There is nothing more damaging to a child than growing up amidst chronic internal strife or family disputes. Even adult children of divorce continue to suffer from the failure of their parents to take the responsibility to debrief and forgive their own and their partner’s broken promises. That requires some hard work: finding compassion for one’s former partner and for oneself.

    I am beginning to think that everyone should be required to engage in pre-marital counseling in order to access such unfinished business — either of their own, their partner’s or of their parent’s. Such a cautious journey into relationship mindfulness may provide a necessary social inoculation from further loss and from the contagion of relationship dis-ease.

    Then again, if you are just marrying for money, rather than love and commitment, you might forget the pre-marital process, simply consult a family lawyer and draw up a pre-nup. The cost, of course, may be more loss of Self, of pride and of feeling Man or Woman enough. And you will probably end up learning a lot more about family divorce law, fathers rights, and parenting plans than you ever imagined a mature, responsible human being would need to know.

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    Avoid the Holiday Blues

    I hope you are all taking the opportunity to enjoy your family and social connections now that you are half way through the year end holidays. This is a fine time to show your family how much you appreciate them no matter how they behave. You are who you are because you act the way you do. So remember to maintain your equanimity, dignity and keep developing your ability to understand and honor your elders and siblings.

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    Staying Committed: Part 2

    Key words: leadership communication negotiation parenting commitment coach success work love balance NO
    Summary: Success at both work and love enhance each other. The necessary negotiation and communication skills lead to success in both the bedroom and the boardroom. One of the most important skills involves keeping promises, especially the commitment to oneself that comes with the power of a positive “No.” One also needs external feedback to really Know Thyself. It is possible to create an effective and dignified work family integration if not balance. Specific “must” suggestion are offered by the author, an executive, family and divorce coach.


    Just as ―it takes a village to raise a child,‖ it takes a community to maintain a marriage, a family, and a career. In summary:

    – 5 – May 29, 2008

     Delegate tasks while you engage in compassionate and appreciative relationships with others.

     Improve your competence evaluating specific requests in relation to your carefully crafted goals.

     Nurture yourself with experiences you find nourishing such as massage, yoga, and romantic weekends away.

     Nurture your loved ones with surprises – something you know they would love to have or do – a special book, a dinner out, a time away from child care responsibilities.

     Navigate formerly hidden emotional vulnerabilities (problems saying “no”, or dealing with conflict without needless guilt) by talking with an executive or marital coach, religious advisor, or trusted friend.

     Increase self-awareness and effective dialogue by listening to the tone of your own voice and listening carefully to others with the kind of attention that increases your awareness of what they need and want. Provide that whenever you can. Say “No” to the rest.

    You may download the full paper as a PDF

    PART 2 OF 2 – It’s hard to stay a committed couple or boss when there so much screaming! ©

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    Staying Committed: Part 1

    To develop these positive moods, one of the highest priorities is creating clear boundary marking. Eliminate chronic struggles over rule making, limit setting and the division of labor. The servant leader needs to be a giver but he/she also really needs another basic skill: the technique of the gracious ―no.‖ Saying ―No‖ is one very important relationship coordinating language skill. It is just as important to serving the other’s needs as when promising ―Yes.‖ An executive, especially, must show solid executive functioning in her use of language.

    To develop these positive moods, one of the highest priorities is creating clear boundary marking. Eliminate chronic struggles over rule making, limit setting and the division of labor. The servant leader needs to be a giver but he/she also really needs another basic skill: the technique of the gracious ―no.‖ Saying ―No‖ is one very important relationship coordinating language skill. It is just as important to serving the other’s needs as when promising ―Yes.‖ An executive, especially, must show solid executive functioning in her use of language.

    You may download the full paper as a PDF

    PART 1 OF 2 – It’s hard to stay a committed couple or boss when there so much screaming! ©

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    Executive Coaching Agreement

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    Consent Form For Audio and Video

    Now you can download this consent form right from my website and read it at your leisure. Please sign and bring to next meeting.

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    Relationship Coaching

    Perhaps the most famous face to face coach, (some would say “in your face”), confronting high conflict couples and families is Dr. Phil. Many arrive to the first few coaching sessions with a report of a breakdown in ability to communicate, and a loss of a sense of humor. I know that it will be important to not only stimulate new awareness and
    accountability but to inject a few laughs as well. What I also know is that it may take a long time for people to let go of their early learned and deeply ingrained loyalty to the images and voices of one’s extended family. So no matter how much time one may spend practicing new styles or modes of communicating, and laughing about one’s flaws, the bottom line is to give oneself permission to face fear — to move on into an uncertain future. Growing up means listening to one’s own voice and creating one’s own image of relating while the competing voices and images of our models pop up and derail our best intentions. We “can’t communicate” usually translates to I am having trouble communicating with my own self and “I don’t want to know it.”

    You may download the full paper as a PDF

    The H.A.R.D. Reality of Relationship Coaching©

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    Changing the Culture of Divorce: A Review

    Following Jung, who said “There is not birth of consciousness without pain, she reminded us that suffering, loss, and death can lead to rebirth? At one of the later convention workshops on Advocacy versus Empathy, reference was made to “the initial trauma of divorce” and the need to wait until people emerge from the shadows in order to be able to fully function under the strictures of the four way agreement and be able to make wise decisions about their future needs in the legal process. Divorce rituals may be the most efficient paths to achieving such an end for those couples struggling through the legal divorce. As we all know the emotional divorce does not easily happen in sync with the legal, economic, and social or community divorce processes.

    You may download the full paper as a PDF

    Review of Marilyn Beloff, Ph.D. ’s October 21, 2004 Workshop, "Changing the Culture of Divorce: A training in the Use of Healing Ritual" at the Boston Law Collaborative

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    Trying One’s Patients

    Insight Into a Hospital Stay

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    The 4 F Model of Divorce

    Here is a useful model for the divorce coach team member who is facilitating a 5-way meeting in the collaborative law approach to divorce.  This model dovetails with a set of expectations of ideal conduct appropriate for both attorneys as well as each spouse.

    Forgive (what happened in the PAST )

    1. Letting go is always a possibility, even if in the background when not yet ready (relinquish).
    2. Emphasis on kindness and mercy creates a positive energy and attitude.
    3. When from the heart, your forgiving helps you finish to this marital chapter of your life story.
    4. Forgiveness may need to be more the purview of therapy than divorce coaching.

    Focus (in the PRESENT with control over one’s emotions).  Negotiate sensibly.

    1. Stay on concrete points of fact rather than negative emotions.
    2. Appeal to both your own and your partners strengths; overlook flaws.

    Read More »

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    The Holidays

    My coaching clients come in or should come in to develop more confidence when facing life’s milestone events. They come at those moments of pain, perhaps when planning a a family holiday reunion, a wedding, a graduation, confirmation, anniversary, or 30ieth birthday. In fact that is why I became the first Psychological Event Planner. I noticed that so many people planning such events suffer tremendous angst in the process. Why are so many happy milestones leading so many people to “lose it” when they should be experiencing the joy of letting go, moving forward and celebrating with their community of significant others. If it takes a village — it best not be a village of idiots: jealous parents who never moved on from their own divorce or
    other grudge holders who make it all about them and leave you feeling or acting like the village idiot. I found I can help people at these crucial times to develop life-giving life strategies for dealing with the first ever reuniting of their divorced parents, for example. Perhaps they are facing a Monster In Law as played by Jane Fonda, peeved at losing her special only child to the not good enough daughter in law. In that movie she had never learned how to deal with loss and is forced to face her perfect storm: losing her son, her youthful body, and her job as a famous host of her own television show. But not everyone gets it that these moments of transition and loss are the time to seek help. The American way is to procrastinate. My plea to all thee who
    delay: Procrastinate Later!

    You may download the full paper as a PDF

    Your parent’s or mine for the Holidays: The first post honeymoon decision!

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    Divorce Coaching

    To lift spirits by restoring hope and peace in families struggling with conflict.

    This brochure defines the nature and benefits of Divorce Coaching.

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    “You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.”

    Abraham Lincoln

    • Shel J. Miller, Ph.D.

      About Shel
      I build relationships - relationships that restore joy and meaning. My clients and I focus on their relationship strengths, on what's strong rather than what's wrong. I am a psychologist coach capable of effective, efficient transforming of conflict whether it emerged from the bedroom or the boardroom. Thus I offer executive, family, marriage and divorce coaching in order to provide solutions to personal or business conflicts.

    • Boston Area Services

      • Executive Coaching
      • Marriage & Family Counseling
      • Pre-Marital Counseling
      • Psychological Consultation
      • Discernment Counseling
      • Divorce Coaching
      • Collaborative Law Coaching
      • Child Specialist
    • Follow Me!

      • Let’s Talk

        • Phone: (617) 731-9174
        • Email: Shel (at) ShelMiller(dot) com