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. 

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How to Find a Great Therapist Match

Even when you think you might be ready to start or return to therapy, you may wonder about finding a therapist who’s a good match. In these days of tele-therapy, it can be both easier and harder to find someone. The field is wider, providing greater selection, but that also may make it more difficult to narrow down your choice. It may surprise you to learn that I started therapy (by choice) when I was 14 years old. I’ve had some half dozen therapists over the decades—fair and great ones—and learned something from them all. If you’re in the market for one or are evaluating your current therapist, here's some excellent advice about how to make this important choice from “Not making progress in therapy? Make sure you and your therapist are a good fit.”  The author encourages you to do the following: Don’t expect your therapist to fix you. Make...
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How to Make the Best Use of Anxiety

Clients who had emotionally or physically unsafe childhood’s tend to hover at either end of a spectrum. Either they never feel safe or inaccurately feel safe when there is an valid threat. If the people who kept telling you to trust them (parents, relatives, caretakers) when you were growing up were really not trustworthy, it makes sense that trust and safety would be confusing to you and that you may not realize it.  Take my client Monty who is recently divorced. He was raised mostly by a single mom who picked many appropriate partners after she and his dad split. Mom appeared to trust every man and believed in being nice to people no matter what. Dad trusted no one but himself and lived a sad, lonely existence. These poor role models set poor Monty up for many unhealthy relationships. Not wanting to be like his dad, he tried his mother’s...
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The Importance of Resting Metabolism

Most of us have heard the term “resting metabolism,” but may not know what it is and why it’s important. “Cutting calories alone to lose weight just won’t cut it” by Angie Ferguson (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 6/8/21, 6E) explains the term in easy-to-understand language. Am I blogging on this subject to encourage you to lose weight or even focus on weight? I am not. But if you’re to understand how your body works in terms of nourishment in and energy out, resting metabolism is part of the picture.  “Metabolism is the daily energy expenditure of three components: resting metabolic rate, the thermal effect of food, and energy we expend during physical activity.” Your basic metabolic rate is called resting because it’s the number of calories you need to survive. It’s the energy consumption rate of your body simply breathing and doing all the internal machinations it does. Says Ferguson, “…when we consume...
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Is Your Refrigerator Your Holding Environment?

One of my favorite highly useful concepts in psychology is about the emotional holding environment. It describes a space that is safe and predictable, where you can spill your guts, and someone is there to share your pain and soothe your suffering. If you think about what you might have felt being held in a parent’s arms as a baby, that would be the feeling. Engulfed with love and completely protected from harm.   Psychoanalyst Galit Atlas, PhD explains what Donald Winnicott, PhD, pediatrician and psychoanalyst who coined the term means by emotional holding in her book Emotional Inheritance: “Emotional holding is the steady emotional arms and available presence of the parents that allow the baby to feel safe and protected. The parent holds the baby in his or her mind, available to tolerate the baby’s emotions, tuned into her signals.” Atlas then describes the benefits of adequate emotional holding: “When...
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How to Become More Resilient

Because resilience is a proven ingredient for success, happiness and satisfaction and the lack of it has been shown to lead to a poor quality of life, it’s important to recognize that you can grow resilience, the ability to recover from hardship, trauma and other stressors. You can build emotional muscle to avoid being taken down by adversity and bounce back from it more quickly and effectively.  “The Kids Are Alright” (Newsweek, 9/3/21, pp 16-26) provides an explanation of resilience, including its manifestations at the neuro-cellular level. According to its author, Adam Piore, susceptibility to depression is unsurprisingly linked with avoidance of risk and a more negative life outlook, while “resilience is associated with a more positive” outlook and “boldness” and taking chances. For example, if you’ve been burned enough times in the romance department, you might stop dating for fear of being hurt again. This behavior will help you avoid...
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How Object Relations Theory Will Help You

I often use object relations theory to help clients better interact with narcissistic people, especially their parents or bosses. It’s a complicated theory and I focus on one particular concept that fosters improved understanding of how others operate. The theory describes the internalized view we have of others: do we see and treat them as if they have their own needs and wants that may be different from ours or do we perceive them as objects (a part of us) to be used for our own gratification. Stop a minute and think about people you know and how you feel around them. If you feel seen, heard and valued by someone, they probably have an internalized view of you as a unique, separate person from themselves (good object relations). However, if you feel unseen, unheard and devalued, they probably objectify you (poor object relations). Here's an example. I had a client...
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What Does Letting Go Really Mean?

A client and I were discussing her difficulty with loss: a sister’s long-ago suicide, her mother’s gradual decline and death from cancer and, most recently, the death of her adored dog, Pearl. Talking about Pearl’s death, my client kept repeating a common phrase, “I can’t seem to let go” and “I need to let go,” which started an interesting conversation about what those words really mean.  Our discussion raised many issues. One was how my client was referring to something that had happened—Pearl’s death—as if it hadn’t. That is, after a long illness, Pearl was euthanized with my client present. She knew Pearl was dead and yet her words implied the need to take further action. This is often how we use the phrase. We don’t get a job we want and say, “I need to let go.” Our fiancé breaks our engagement, and we say, “Why can’t I just let...
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To Lose Weight, Ditch Processed Food

If you’re a regular reader of my blogs, you know I don’t write about ways to lose weight because a scale focus is bound to sabotage learning to eat “normally.” However, a recent article, Our Food Is Killing Us, presents such compelling facts about how ultra-processed food makes us fatter, that I couldn’t not write about it. It also speaks to how food manufacturers intentionally load up these foods to make them super appealing and habituating and how their production is geared to put weight on anyone who eats them. For more information on processed foods see my previous blogs about its dangers.  Here's how ultra-processed makes us fatter. Fructose, the commonly sweetener in our foods used in high concentrations, “destroys or inactivates several key enzymes needed for the healthy function of mitochondria . . . which causes a backlog of unprocessed glucose to circulate in the bloodstream and store it...
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Satisfaction versus Achievement

I recently came across an author who suggests that happiness comes from satisfaction, not from achievement and I thought about all my unsatisfied clients over the decades who had achieved so much but rarely felt that what they’d done was enough or was up to par. And so off they went seeking satisfaction with food. Satisfaction is a quirky thing, but hardly elusive. You can feel satisfied watching a spell-binding movie or TV series, reading a book about the Civil War, weeding the garden or making a four-course meal. These are just a few of the activities that can bring satisfaction, as can getting a solid night’s sleep or cleaning out the garage. Satisfaction doesn’t come from the party you’re attending, but from what you bring to it. That is, it comes from a deeply felt sense of pleasure in what you’re doing. It’s not about what you’ll tell people after...
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The Legacy of Trauma

Many people think that if they didn’t suffer trauma in childhood or adulthood, they’re trauma free. But it’s interesting to note how many of these people suffer with anxiety, depression, chemical dependency, or are victims or perpetrators of abuse. How trauma becomes intergenerational through our cells and DNA is more complex than I’m able to do justice to (though I’m reading a book on the subject and will soon blog about it). For now, I want to talk about how intergenerational trauma affects people and may be one of the causes of their dysregulated eating. Here are two examples. When Devon’s grandparents who were farmers came over from Ireland, they were dirt poor. With eight children, two of whom who died as toddlers, they could barely scrape together enough money to migrate to the U.S. when Devon’s dad was 11. All the children arrived here malnourished and were put to work...
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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.