Attune means harmony. This blog is about harmonizing ourselves in our connection to others and to our planet. I bow to basic goodness in our world and in relationships encourage opening our hearts with love and compassion.

Posted 484 weeks ago


10 Ground Rules for a Skillful Therapeutic Marital Separation

We agree to abide by the following basic ground rules during our skillful separation:

1.   We will separate until ____________________(date) then revisit how the separation is going in therapy to decide if we need more time apart.

2.   We will attend therapy together and leave our problems in the therapy room (for now).

3.   We will live in separate places (not in the same house).

4.   No lawyers will be consulted or hired.

5.   We will keep the money as it is.

6.   We will have at least one date a week and agree to try and have a little fun and see if we can still enjoy each other’s company.

7.   We will not discuss our relationship problems outside of therapy and neither will to pressure the other do anything.

8.   We agree to respect each other’s space and privacy and will not keep communication to a minimum.

9.   Neither party will date or be with anyone else nor tell people of the opposite sex about our problems.

10.       Each of us will work on our own problems and not blame the other.  We agree to seek individual therapy if recommended.

Our signatures mean we will honor our agreement.


_________________________   ____________________________

Signature and date                         Signature and date

Posted 514 weeks ago
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Posted 514 weeks ago
Posted 518 weeks ago
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Posted 518 weeks ago
Posted 518 weeks ago

7 Simple Practices You Can Do to Establish Healthy Habits

In Couples Communication

By consistently practicing these 7 simple rules,

you can create a relationship “we plan” where

positive regard can take root and grow.

1. Look at your partner when s/he is talking.  Make eye contact.  Agree to remove distractions (do not get in an argument over removing distractions).

2. Empathically listen to your partner without judging her or him.  Receive the message accurately by listening carefully for how your partner is feeling (that is empathy).  Do not talk, let your mind run off, or interrupt.  Ask for clarification if you need to.  Allow him or her to say, “No that’s not what I meant,” and let them talk until you understand their point of view (you do not have to agree). 

3.Use “I language” when it is your turn to talk.  Talk about what I am observing, how I am feeling, what I need, what I am requesting—when I (see, hear) …  I feel …  because I need/value … Would you be willing to … ?

4.Do not criticize.  Complain without suggesting that your partner isdefective (no name calling).

5.Do not blame.  Accept responsibility for your part of the problem(remember that you always have a part).

6.Stay emotionally connected by talking about your feelings.  Make a pact to allow walking away when feelings become too hot to handle.  Come back when feelings cool and take responsibility for your own feelings (I got angry /upset).

7. If your partner is willing, concrete action should include both parties (what I will be willing to do, what you will be willing to do).  Write it down and put it on the fridge as a reminder.  Do no argue about the request not getting done, just do your part.  You do not need your partner’s cooperation to silently practice these rules and look for what you can do to enrich your partner’s life.    

By Dr. Susan Grey Smith

Posted 521 weeks ago
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Posted 521 weeks ago

Judge abuse cases with great care

My career has taken many turns since I left Lexington for the mountains of Floyd County to be a child-protective services worker 35 years ago. Wide-eyed with wonder, I encountered my first children with head lice and those looking like little coal miners from the thick soot of the heat of a coal fire. One house where chickens roamed in and out on a bare wooden floor looked more like a chickedncoop than a home.

My co-workers explained to me that parents struggle to keep their children fed, clothed and safe in an environment with few resources and that I should not judge them too harshly.

Things have changed, but I never forgot the kindness and acceptance I was shown in a culture different from my own by people I hardly knew. I still work with families and children who have been neglected and abused but my attitude that people are basically good has never changed. To be an effective helper, one must strive to understand the context in which good people do bad things.

I work with social workers, detectives, attorneys, judges and other professionals to figure out what kind of risk a parent poses to harm their children. I have become increasingly concerned by what I see across the state.

Too often, parents are being judged harshly without much hard evidence of wrongdoing. Child Protective Services and police often rely on confessions or the court to determine risk instead of conducting a thorough investigation, particularly of sexual abuse. I have seen a judge ignore a sound state investigation and conclude that a parent sexually abused his child based on flimsy testimony from unqualified witnesses.

I feel discouraged surrounded by so many parents who have been treated unfairly by professionals whose duty is to serve and protect. I fear for our society where people who wield power in such a lazy and hard-hearted way have lost their moral authority.

Parents are separated from children who love them. They spend thousands of hard-earned dollars on attorneys and experts who may do little to advance their cause. Often they are unable to rehabilitate themselves in the eyes of a judge or social worker who made up his or her mind early on.

People make mistakes. We hurt others out of deluded thinking that justifies the harm, silently vowing we will never do it again only to find ourselves doing it again. No one knows for sure except us and the child, who may be too young to understand what has happened.

Instead of erring on the side of a parent’s guilt with nothing to go on except a few words from a child we should be making other, equally plausible assumptions — that the child’s memory has been influenced by another parent or caretaker, that someone else did something to the child or that a professional became hooked emotionally and stopped looking for the truth.

Dr. Susan Grey Smith of Lexington is a licensed marriage and family counselor.

Posted 524 weeks ago
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Posted 525 weeks ago

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