Life Compass Coaching & Counseling

Resources for Better Living

Are We a Right Fit?

One-on-One Coaching My clients change.  This is something I say often.  And it is true. The vast majority of my clients achieve success for themselves. This is because I only work with clients who I believe will succeed. If I sense up-front that someone isn’t right for my approach, I’d rather not take take their time or money.  Read below to find out if you and I were meant to be… My clients – Are looking for a short-term boost rather than a long-term solution. Want to passively have someone “fix them”. Are serious about getting their problem solved. Are ready to take responsibility for their lives and relationships. I look forward to working with you if – You are ready to do the work it takes to get your goal accomplished. You are ready to learn and change to achieve your outcome. You take responsibility for your decisions and actions. You want a natural, drug-free solution to your issue. A few other things you should know about me – Pricing:  The services I offer enable clients to make profound changes in their lives, usually very quickly.  I charge accordingly. Approach: All work is done with a tailored, one-on-one approach working with me directly.  There are no use of scripts, light/sound goggles or CDs.  In addition to weekly goal oriented solutions, working with me often involves coaching and tasks done outside of the office. Yes, I give “homework”.  Medication:  I cannot prescribe, nor am I a proponent of psychotropic drugs. That being said, I understand that they can be a short term buffer between “no longer” and “not yet”. ...

Thinking As a Way of Being

Those of us on the path of personal and spiritual growth have a tendency to analyze our unhappiness in order to find the causes and make improvements. But it is just as important, if not more so, to analyze our happiness. Since we have the ability to rise above and observe our emotions, we can recognize when we are feeling joyful and content. Then we can harness the power of the moment by savoring our feelings and taking time to be grateful for them. Recognition is the first step in creating change, therefore recognizing what it feels like to be happy is the first step toward sustaining happiness in our lives. We can examine how joy feels in our bodies and what thoughts run through our minds in times of bliss. Without diminishing its power, we can retrace our steps to discover what may have put us in this frame of mind, and then we can take note of the choices we’ve made while there. We might realize that we are generally more giving and forgiving when there’s a smile on our face, or that we are more likely to laugh off small annoyances and the actions of others when they don’t resonate with our light mood. Once we know what it feels like and can identify some of the triggers and are aware of our actions, we can recreate that happiness when we are feeling low. Knowing that like attracts like, we can pull ourselves out of a blue mood by focusing on joy. We might find that forcing ourselves to be giving and forgiving, even when it...

What is PTSD?

PTSD is the acronym for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and refers to a cluster of symptoms that result from a past trauma. But what’s a trauma?. Trauma refers to a psychological or emotional imprint that occurs when an event or series events threatens our sense of safety or well-being to the extent that our minds react to protect us from any further exposure. In order to protect ourselves until we are either healthy enough or supported well enough to address issues from the past, sometimes, our experience or memory of a traumatizing event can be compartmentalized or stored away. PTSD can be diagnosed as soon as 30 days after an event or as long as 30 years or more after an event. The good news is that the healing process can begin at any...

Couples Therapy

First, it is important to realize that couples therapy, marriage counseling, and marital therapy are all the same. These different names have been used to describe the same process, with the difference often based on which psychotherapy theory is favored by the psychologist using the term, or whether an insurance company requires a specific name for reimbursement. Couples therapy is often seen as different from psychotherapy because a relationship is the focus of attention, instead of one individual diagnosed with a specific psychological problem. This difference only arises if you consider psychological problems to be similar to medical illnesses, and therefore confined to a “sick” individual who needs treatment. That medical model of psychological diagnosis and treatment is common, but is really inadequate to describe and resolve psychological problems. All psychological problems, and all psychological changes involve both individual symptoms (behavior, emotions, conflicts, thought processes) and changes in interpersonal relationships. Couples therapy focuses on the problems existing in the relationship between two people. But, these relationship problems always involve individual symptoms and problems, as well as the relationship conflicts. For example, if you are constantly arguing with your spouse, you will probably also be chronically anxious, angry or depressed (or all three). Or, if you have difficulty controlling your temper, you will have more arguments with your partner. In couples therapy, the therapist will help you and your partner identify the conflict issues within your relationship, and will help you decide what changes are needed, in the relationship and in the behavior of each partner, for both of you to feel satisfied with the relationship. These changes may be...

Conversations with Couples

It is very common for couples to contact me and, in our first conversation prior to an appointment, ask for help in these areas: Infidelity/Trust Issues Communication ‘Tools’ or ‘Skills’ Parenting Issues Anger Issues Intimacy Issuesand…last but not least…. ”I’m pretty sure my husband is a Narcissist” One might think that all of these issues are varied and drastically different from one another.  What might ‘anger’ issues have to do with ‘infidelity’”? What does ‘communication’ have to do with ‘parenting’ or ‘intimacy’ issues?  Actually, this is where therapy becomes therapy vs. communication coaching or teaching. Follow me here……I can teach you communication skills, I can provide you models for effective parenting, I can provide you with self soothing/de-escalation skills to interrupt patterns of impulse and anger, we can even identify blocks to vulnerability or access to one’s own emotional responses, and, there is tremendous  initial value and insight by acquiring these skill sets….this is important stuff for sure. However, these are what I deem to be behavioral changes vs authentic changes.  Have you ever heard of, or known a ‘dry drunk’ (excuse my slang)?  This is person who has changed their maladaptive behavior (alcohol = bad idea) for a less damaging behavior (sober = better idea)…but what about the reason the person drank, or had the affair or was a rigid parent or was prone to rage in the first place?  Changing behavior may not change the underlying dynamic…at all.  Dry drunks are difficult by nature, a person who has had an affair and stops is no less prone to a relapse than a person refraining from alcohol…..unless underlying...

Diffusing Parent Conflict After Divorce

Increasingly in our family law court system we are seeing divorces that can be identified as “High Conflict”.  Entire careers, and hundred of thousands of dollars are being made by this phenomena, and whether you consider this wrong or right, one thing we can probably all agree on is that YOU do not want to be the less that 10% of  divorces that use 80% of the family court resources. If you are recently divorced and find your co-parenting relationship starting to deteriorate, it is important to stop divorce conflict before it goes too far. Here is my advice to you: 1. Love Your Child More Than You Hate Your Ex. During divorce, and sometimes long after, parents are so consumed with their hurt and resentments that they retreat into survival mode. For some parents, survival mode equals attack mode. The idea that children are resilient enough to be immune is a myth. In my work with anxiety and trauma clients, I have adult clients of High Conflict divorce, who at age 20, 30 & 40 are still suffering the emotional damage caused them by having been witness to their parent’s anger towards one another. In adults this effect manifests itself as anxiety, depression, neurosis and chronic health issues. And this damage is not intentional. Minimizing one’s own behavior or blaming a children’s fragility occurs because the High Conflict parent must focus on their own survival. The unintentional damage that loving parents cause their children seems inevitable because these parents do not have the knowledge and practical skills to parent in a crisis. Throughout a difficult divorce, parents’ unbridled...

EMDR Therapy and Trauma

Trauma survivors often complain of recurring nightmares, sudden tearfulness, flashbacks, aversions to places or people and even somatic/physical discomforts. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), is a technology created about 20 years ago by Francine Shapiro, PhD. EMDR involves systematically bringing highly charged images/experiences to the conscious self without hypnosis where they can be rationally dealt with and resolved into normal memory. This process is rapid and is noted in psychology journals as the most effective treatment available for...

The One Thing Not to Lose Sight of When Getting Divorced

Divorce is a time of great transitions, losses and potentially, growth. Divorce is one of the hardest things you might go through in your lifetime and while you are in the midst of this “hardest time in your life” you might lose sight of one very important thing. You want to stay out of court. You do. Yes, you really do. Yes, I understand that you’re mad/hurt/betrayed/protecting yourself. But you still really, really want to stay put of court. Court is not a place for families. It is a place for lawyers. It is a place for individuals who have been trained and socially encouraged to make up a paycheck by manipulaing a body of rules and formulas that have nothing to do with you and your family. Court is a place where strangers throw phrases around such as, “in the best interest of the children” to justify bankrupting your children’s parents (yes, that’s you) and all in the name of the law. If that sounds harsh, it’s because it is. Court is the worst thing that could happen to a healthy family. Is there a time and place where court and litigation is necessary? Absolutely. I will write more about that in a future post. For now, know that the great majority of divorce cases can and should be settled out of court, mediated, or refer to collaborative divorce. I get it, you are mad. And yes, your ex is a so and so. And yes, the children would be better off at this school or that school or ??? And no, you can’t agree on a custody...

Balance in Relationships

Throughout the course of a successful marriage or long-term commitment, the two people in the relationship may shift in and out of various roles. For example, one person in the couple may support the other person going back to school. In order to do this, he or she steps into a supporting role, setting aside certain goals or aspirations in order to provide a stable base from which his or her partner can launch in a new direction. There are many gifts of learning inherent in this role—from having the opportunity to embody a nurturing stance to feeling the pleasure of seeing a loved one thrive. When our partner expands his or her horizons, ours expand, too, and we gain access to a world that would otherwise remain closed to us. However, there is also much to be said for having a turn to be the one stepping outside the box, perhaps taking time to attend to our personal healing, spiritual pursuits, or other interests. In order to maintain balance within our relationships, it’s important that we address these issues each time one person steps into a supporting role so the other can try something new. When we are conscious about acknowledging that one person is bearing a bit more of a burden so that the other can grow, we stand a better chance of making sure the ebb and flow in the relationship remains fair and equal. The most important part of this process is open communication in which each person has a chance to express how they feel and come to an understanding about the roles they...

A Soldier’s Unseen Wounds

A gun, a tank, a rocket launcher all make sense if you are a member of any of our armed services on a tour in the Middle East. They are necessary for the tasks that these men and women have been trained and, for better or worse, fit into the context of war. Just as a rifle is a tool with a specific design; the sight to hone in on a target, materials that resist wear and damage, a magazine to hold rounds to defend or attack, a trigger to engage the sole purpose of the tool. So too, can a mind be conditioned to serve a specific purpose to suite an environment and a context that can be imagined, practiced and realized in mission after mission. The difference is that the rifle is not expected to change purpose at the end of a tour. Whether in ‘that’ environment or another it maintains it’s function and form. We expect our servicemen and women to suddenly, and with little preparation or explanation to change context, change purpose, dial back intensity, leave the thousands of hours of training in the camps. If you are one of them. It may be one of most difficult experiences you have ever had, or will have. Feelings of detachment and isolation even when around familiar people, not feeling purposeful or needed, having a loss of direction and confusion about the future. These are all common to the returning soldier. Aside from the personal effects, behavioral issues compound the problem. Poor sleep patterns, rapid mood changes, aggression and irritability, depression and even panic attacks can all...

Anxiety Snapshot

One of my many reasons for working with individuals with Anxiety, Panic Attacks and PTSD is that they all carry a very good prognosis. Meaning that, when treated properly, we can expect positive results and we can expect them to last. When I hear of someone or meet someone who has suffered from long-term generalized anxiety or Panic Attacks I feel a sense of urgency to make changes early on. There is simply no reason why a person should suffer with either of these debilitating clusters of symptoms. Anxiety and Panic are expressions of a problem at a deeper level. Much like pain in the body, anxiety is a signal that something needs to change. Part of the work is discovering what change needs to occur, part of the work is finding behaviors to manage, reduce or eliminate the attacks/anxiety and part of the work is trusting the change that occurs over the long run. That being said, treatment approaches can involve emotional, behavioral, environmental, familial and spiritual aspects of a person’s life. While the work to minimize the suffering is primary, the secondary changes that occur in this exploration enrich every aspect a persons’ life. I work with individuals with problems with anxiety, PTSD, trauma as well as with couples and...

Men’s Group

  ManKind Men’s Group Every other WEDNESDAY at 6:00pm – 7:00pm Inviting Men to address issues of sensitivity vs. anger, acceptance vs. dominance/control, accommodation vs. healthy assertiveness. Welcoming men in and out of committed relationships that may have identify patterns of behavior. Age welcome 35+. Will limit group size to 6 including facilitator. This is a process group and also will be topical and follow some books chosen by group. Please call Lee direct at 530.902.6772 or email...

Therapeutic Weight Loss Group

Click Here to Register According to the National Institute of Health, Obesity is one of the fastest-growing health crises among Americans. Approximately 65% of Americans are either overweight or obese. Despite  the available wealth of information, weight loss and healthy living still eludes the majority of our population. Despite the cultural “ideal” promoting life as a  slim sized American, neither our social or practical life supports this ideal. Traditional weight loss therapy has also failed to address the multi-faceted problems associated with weight loss. As a certified weight loss coach, I know there is more to weight and health maintenance than following a prescribed exercise program and limited diet plan.  Everyone knows how to join a gym and knows how to count calories. But, diet and exercise are only a portion of the problem and only a portion of the solution. Health and weight loss is a complex issue. And too often we are focusing on the simplistic solutions and not addressing, the sometimes confrontational, contributing factors that keep us stuck in our patterns. Pulling from the best resources on this subject, I have partnered with Dr. Jami Kulkin-Alvarez. Jami is a licensed Marriage and Family, Therapist. She also holds a Doctorate in Naturopathy and is a Certified Personal Trainer.  She has been studying the psychology of weight  loss for more than a decade and has lost over 65 lbs over the last 5 years herself. Join Jami and I for six weeks of group sessions covering: Contributing psychological factors Nutritional deficits that influence our food choices Making cognitive-behavioral change Understanding the link between what we eat and how it...

Zen Group

WHEN: Every Thursday, 7:00 Please join our Meetup group to RSVP — $5.00 donation is kindly requested.   Living Zen is an ongoing workshop where human beings can learn the mechanics of zen practice and collaborate with their peers to develop and integrate a stronger sense of ‘here’ and ‘now’ into their individual lives.  It is, in short, about how you practice zen in your life outside the meditation hall when it comes down to just you and the world.  Our focus is on how to meditate, how to carve out a path of practice, and how to deal with the thoughts, people, and objects which seem to vex our efforts to simply live in synch with the world around us. If a person looks up, above the cars on the street and the many voices spilling out of sidewalk restaurants, it can seem that there is very little to the sky.  But if a person waits and listens, it is possible to see the shape of an owl glide from one tree to another, and gradually it becomes apparent that the downtown streets are filled with owls.  For some, a realization might arise that there is something hidden and yet interwoven into the fabric of this thing we call ‘Davis’.  We mean to find it. The group will feature a short reading each week, meditation, and a small group discussion on how to bring a little zen into our lives.   No experience with zen or meditation to attend.   Just bring your heart. An optional posture clinic will be offered half an hour before each...

Lee Ockenden, LMFT – My Approach

Who we are and how we relate to the world and others is dictated by the meaning we give to our past. But if we choose to find the purpose in our experiences instead of the pain, we find new resources, giving us the catalyst to change, grow, heal and pursue the life we desire and deserve. Traditional therapy was founded in psychoanalysis with the assumption that an individual’s growth and change process was hinged on gaining insight and into their behavioral patterns by processing, free-associating and reflecting on their past. Inside this traditional “treatment culture,” it is not uncommon for a client stay in treatment long periods of time, lasting anywhere from three to seven years or more, including multiple sessions per week. I believe that traditional therapy can foster dependency and create barriers for lasting change. I often hear from new patients who have been to therapy for many years that they felt their last therapist(s) were too passive. Rather than embracing a “backward looking—coping” approach, I embrace a “forward looking—thriving” approach by focusing on resolving barriers to change, identifying solutions and creating choices. This approach, inside a safe supportive and consistent counseling environment, encourages clients to use their own innate resources to heal. In addition, I am also clear that my clients will ultimately find their support and accountability through their partner, family or community and I encourage my clients to create a healthy support system outside the...

Eleven Ways to Achieve a Healthier Life

As important as it is to learn to develop and listen to your own voice, sometimes there are moments when we have to trust to supplant other people’s judgment for our own. I work with a lot of weight loss clients and while they might know the calorie count to every menu item out there, there is often times still a breakdown from theory to practice.  In these cases it is important to structure a system of practice that will serve as a temporary (and yes, artificial) default, until your brain and habits catch up. Along those lines are Eleven Ways to Achieve a Healthier Life. With one great tip each from eleven different voices in the health and fitness industry this Livestrong article covers a lot of ground and certainly is worth the read....