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Karen's Blogs

Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life.Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. 

Do You Spend More Time Focused on Your Problems Than on Solutions?

A common occurrence is having a client come into my office and start telling me about a problem. That’s what clients are supposed to do with me, right—cough up their problems? Well, sure, that’s true, but I’m talking about describing their problems to the exclusion of focusing on what they might do to reduce or eliminate them. For example…   A client might sit down and begin complaining about her husband being over-involved in his work and rarely spending time alone with her. She’ll describe in detail the instances during the week that he’s come home late while l listen, maybe making a comment or asking a question. When I ask if she’s followed up on corrective ideas we talked about previously, she’ll shrug and say how hard it is to change him and return to complaining.   Another client might come in with a list of times he’s binged...
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Be Aware of Thin Privilege

We hear a good deal about white and male privilege, both of which are alive and well and living in the U.S., but we don’t hear much about thin privilege. If you’re reading this blog, you might be all too aware of the benefits and rewards of thinness in this culture and how higher weight people are covertly and overtly effected. You probably recognize on a gut level that thin privilege exists. In case you’d like to learn more or educate others about it, here are some great examples of what it encompasses.   According to Everyday Feminism ( everydayfeminism.com/2012/11/20-examples-of-thin-privilege/ , accessed 6/13/17)), “If you’ve been a ‘normal’ size your whole life, you may have never thought of the benefits of being thin. But sizeism is very prevalent, and it’s one of the most accepted ‘isms’ in our society. And this assumption that you need to be thin in order...
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Science-Based Ways to Build Mental Health Skills

I’m always looking for evidence-based ways to help clients improve their mental health. There’s so much pseudo-science out there, that I was delighted when a friend told me about the website of Greater Good in Action: https://ggia.berkeley.edu/ . All of their practices are based on scientific studies and trials. Of course, that doesn’t mean that all of their suggestions will work for you. It only means that they work for many people.   The Greater Good in Action at UC Berkley encourages these practices: Awe: Observing nature and the beauty of the world Compassion: Loving-kindness, eliciting altruism, feeling connected/supported Connection: Effective apology, forgiveness, shared identity, friendship, gratitude Empathy: Increasing closeness, letting go of anger, active listening, positivity Forgiveness: Forgiveness, letting go of anger, effective apology Gratitude: journaling, letter-writing, positivity, nature, relationships Happiness: strengths’ focus, random acts of kindness, best possible self, gratitude Kindness: shared identity, feeling connected, compassion, make giving...
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The Habit of Not Knowing

One of my clients really nailed her problem with emotions. “I have no idea what I’m feeling most of the time. It’s a habit not to know,” she said, as if not being aware of feelings were the most natural thing in the world. Do you have a habit of avoiding noting or exploring what’s going on inside you? If so, it’s time get and stay connected. Emotional health means knowing what you’re feeling most of the time—when you’re frustrated, anxious, hurt, disappointed, bored, confused or lonely, plus any other emotions which pay you a visit. You may not recognize exactly what you’re feeling every second of every day, but you want to keep a running connection to your affective world. Sure, sometimes you’ll miss what you’re feeling in the moment and need to wait a bit to figure it out. The point is to value emotions enough to want...
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How Having a Parent with Alcoholism Can Impact You and Your Eating

Many of my clients who are dysregulated eaters are children of parents who had problems with drugs or alcohol. A few are savvy about being an Adult Child of an Alcoholic (ACOA), and some even attend their group meetings. But many are unfamiliar with how this type of upbringing might effect them—and their relationship with food.   According to “Adult Children of Alcoholics: Healing Lifelong Scars” by Batya Swift Yasgur, MA, LSW (Psychiatric Advisor, 5/30/17, accessed 6/6/17, http://www.psychiatryadvisor.com/addiction/adult-children-of-alcoholics-select-alcoholic-partners/article/664832/ ), “It is estimated that there are 28.6 million children of alcoholics (COAs) in the U.S… Compared with individuals who were not raised by an alcoholic parent, adult COAs are more likely to experience depression and engage in behavioral disengagement, denial, and substance abuse…and are 3-4 time more likely than non-ACOAs to select partners who are alcoholic.”   It is crucial to understand the profound impact that being raised by someone with...
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What’s More Important – What People Say or What They Do?

One of the easiest traps to fall into is to put more faith and hope into what someone says rather than what they do. This is virtually how most victims of abuse remain mired in hurtful relationships. If you’re paying more attention to how people say they’ll be than to how they really are, these scenarios may be (sadly) familiar to you. You repeatedly believe the excuses that people give for their behavior: You just happen to catch them smoking their only cigarette of the day; They’re late because the alarm clock didn’t go off again; They couldn’t say no to having a drink though they’d promised to give up alcohol; They keep texting with a former lover because he or she keeps emailing them and they don’t want to be rude and not respond. They make the same promises repeatedly for months, or worse, years and you want to...
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Post-Traumatic Growth

I bet all of you have heard of Post-traumatic stress, but I wonder how many of you know about Post-traumatic growth. We so often think of the downside of trauma—depression, hypervigilance, anxiety and flashbacks—but it turns out that there’s an upside to it as well. The term, post-traumatic growth, was first used by Richard Tedeschi, Ph.D. and Lawrence Calhoun, Ph.D. in 1995 at the University of North Carolina to describe the positive changes that they saw in patients  who had been affected by and were struggling with trauma.   If you are someone who’s been impacted by trauma, you might find it hard to believe that there’s anything positive about it, but research tells us that there is. "People develop new understandings of themselves, the world they live in, how to relate to other people, the kind of future they might have and a better understanding of how to live...
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Psychological Shifts Toward Normal Eating and Better Mental Health

Two clients recently mentioned “feeling different about food” recently. When I asked if they could describe what the difference was, they couldn’t explain it, but were adamant that something had changed within them. That’s what we call a psychological shift and, when it happens, you may not understand what caused it, but you darn well know that it happened.   I had such a shift recently while thinking about someone I knew and was fond of decades ago. I was thinking about how much fun he was and the good times we shared, when suddenly I saw him in a completely different light, as not really an honorable man. His deceitfulness suddenly completely overshadowed his fun-loving qualities, and he was no longer a man I felt fondness for, but someone who, at heart, I knew was not a very trustworthy person. And since that day, I’ve never been able to...
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What If You Never Lose the Weight?

A topic that has cropped up with clients recently is the question of what to do if they keep trying to eat more healthfully, exercise and take better care of their bodies and still don’t lose weight. Clients dance around this question and I suspect I do too at times. They want reassurance that if they finally “do things right,” good things, aka weight loss, will surely follow, but are terrified that it won’t. And I can’t make any guarantees.   The fact is that, even after working with hundreds of dysregulated eaters for three decades, I cannot tell you, a specific person, if you will lose the weight you would like to lose. I’ve had clients lose no weight, some weight, or a great deal of weight. I’ve had clients leave therapy unhappy at their same weight and get in touch down the line (months or years later) to...
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Can You Have Too Much Compassion for Others?

I love the kind of days when the same themes keep re-appearing from one client to the other. Sometimes the theme is realizing that the most important approval comes from ourselves. Or that detachment is far superior than wanting to change someone. Or the theme that echoed through practically every session one particular Monday in late May.   Most of my clients learn about self-compassion from me and we have long discussions about it how they never learned it from their parents who didn’t possess it or why they never received much of it growing up. They understand that self-compassion—meeting suffering with kindness—is missing in them and generally do quite well in healing their eating and other problems by generated greater care and concern toward themselves. They find it quite amazing how a little self-compassion can go such a long way toward helping them have a better attitude and a...
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This website is owned and operated by Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW. It contains material intended for informational and educational purposes only, and reasonable effort is made to keep its contents updated. Any material contained herein is not to be construed as the practice of clinical social work or of psychotherapy, although adherence to applicable Florida States, Rules, and Code of Ethics is observed. Material on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment for mental health issues or eating disorder problems, which should be done only through individualized therapeutic consultation. Karen R. Koenig, LCSW disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained on this website. This website contains links to other sites. The inclusion of such links does not necessarily constitute endorsement by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW who disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained in this website. Further, Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or current usefulness of the material contained in the linked sites. Users of any website must be aware of the limitation to confidentiality and privacy, and website usage does not carry any guarantee or privacy of any information contained therein.