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Whose Homework is it Anyways?

There’s a new crop of students, now in first year university.

Among them are students whose parents carried them through high school.

Now in university these students are realizing there is an increased work load and yet far more independence. Some of these students will slack off. The work won’t get done.

If or when the parents get wind of the lack of progress, some parents will be angry, some worried and yet some willing to “help” their young adult child meet their academic expectations.

That “help” is code for actually doing a portion to all of the student’s assignments.

The enabling through high school catches up.

When will it stop?

At some point such enabling caves in on itself. It’s not sustainable.

It’s not the student who needs to wrap their head around this, it’s the parents.

At some point your now young adult child will have to take responsibility for themselves.

Typically the earlier this begins, the sooner it can happen and hopefully that students can come to quickly learn a few skills, not least of which include responsibility and accountability.

There may be a few skinned knees along the way, some lost school time and some stiff opposition and belly-aching. The year may be lost.

Kids who have been endulged and enabled have far less life skills and more fear when faced with real challenges. They look to avoid, blame and complain.

Parents, if this describes your situation, realize lectures, negotiation and promises of change are more likely ploys to avoid accountability than a true shift of attitude.

It’s you who will have to find the fortitude to make things happen.

That will be mostly by quitting the role you’ve been playing and stop enabling.

Then your young adult child has a chance to grow up.

Slow and painfully, but a chance.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Childhood Anxiety at Bedtime

Some kids develop tremendous anxieties that emerge at bedtime.

It could be of someone stealing them away, the death of a loved one, fire, etc.

The origin of the fear may be unknown or it may be traceable to an actual event, be it through a friend, news report, family experience, or even just a TV show or YouTube video.

Most parents will do their best to soothe their child through their fear. It is sufficient for some kids.

It is that very process however that may be worsening the experience of anxiety for others.

It is called over-accomodating.

Research out of Yale University suggests that all that help and soothing is an issue and instead of the kid going to counseling, it’s the parent who should.

There is a paradox to all that soothing and accommodation. It actually suggests there is something to fear, otherwise, why all the attention and support?

The solution, or at least part of it, is to treat the child’s fear with little fanfare.

“Ok, I hear you sweetheart, now go to bed. If necessary, we can discuss it in the morning.”

It’s up to the parent to maintain this disposition and not be inducted into the child’s vortex of fears.

This approach by the parent says, I both hear you and feel for you, yet know there is nothing unsafe and therfore, I am not indulging this.

The child may squirm and fret and call out and may be quietly and gently redirected back to bed countless times, but eventually they fall asleep.

That is when the parent can advise in the morning that as known to the parent, all is well and they are available to chat about it as promised.

Thus the parent exudes an air of concern, knowledge that the fear is just that, a fear, and that they are still there for the child but when reasonable.

It is the parent who may need support for this approach.

Seek counseling for yourself if necessary.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Resiliency Actually Requires Frustration

Resiliency is the capacity to overcome adversity.

It is learned and developed throughout childhood, even starting as a little one.

It requires the child to meet with frustration and to be soothed such that they settle and cope.

It is not about compensating for an upset such that the upset is offset by some gift or bribe.

As the child learns they survive their distress, then they have capacity to learn that distress isn’t the end of everything.

However, many parent seek to stave off all manner of upset or give something to the child to distract or compensate.

The learning there is that when in distress not only is one bailed out, but there is a net gain as provided by another.

Imagine the dismay and inability to cope when in another environment, say school, no one comes to the rescue and there is no payday for the upset encountered.

This then can feel catastrophic for the child.

They haven’t learned to either cope or self-soothe. They remain in their misery, overwhelmed.

Their thought goes towards those they believe should have run to their rescue with reward. To them they now experience resentment.

That resentment may seek to dispel itself through revenge, some sort of innapropriate acting out to a target of blame who is actually innocent.

What a horrible outcome.

Worse the outcome becomes when that target of blame becomes one’s romantic partner as the process continues to adult life.

When we run to only smooth the child’s path, versus express empathy and offer emotional support, but not compensation, a tremendous disservice may be done.

We do not seek to bring intentional frustration or distress to a child. This will occur naturally as when they want something that is not available or appropriate at the moment.

No need to negotiate and do all their problem solving, although occasionally it is ok and helpful.

This is the time to be empathetic, to understand their pain, to stand with them and facilitate their learning that we can survive the tumult and frustrations of life and with that, carry on.

Therein is resiliency.

That lesson equips them to manage life.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

You May Be Choking on Past Trauma and Don’t Even Know It

I meet with folks who don’t realize the severity of the abuse and trauma to which they were exposed growing up.

They may have tremendous issues with mental health, drug or alcohol abuse and/or serious physical ailments, but nowhere has anyone ever helped them make a connection to those early life experiences.

I am the first to point out those experiences for what they were. It often comes as a surprise.

The thing is, whatever we experience growing up becomes our normal. Like the air we breathe, we are used to it.

I remember getting off the plane years ago in Los Angeles. In fact just flying into the airport there was a ring of pollution giving the impression we were landing in a dirty toilet bowl.

By the time we walked from the plane, got our luggage and found our way to the car rental spot, the air pollution was already causing my throat to feel scratchy and my eyes itchy.

I asked the clerk at the counter how they managed with such pollution.

The clerk looked at me not really understanding the question and said in all seriousness, “What pollution?”

Living in it, they were used to it.

Interestingly, what they also didn’t realize is that they had a shorter life expectancy just for living there. So their lack awareness of the pollution didn’t protect them from its harm.

Abuse and trauma works the same way. You can be so used to it so as not to recognize it. It can still do you harm.

Counseling can bring it to your attention and with that you may have more options to manage its affects better.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Thinking About Separating? Think About This….

It is not uncommon that when a person thinks about separating from their partner, they may contemplate it for years before following through.

That means this person has had all that time to think it through as well as adjust emotionally.

When the news is delivered, even if the relationship was problematic, the one just receiving the news feels like the rug is pulled from beneath them.

That leaves them disheveled emotionally, upset, scared, angry, hurt….

Kids may witness the distress of the parent and certainly have to live with the emotional confusion of the parent, let alone their own.

With that, considerable time is needed to accommodate to the news and adjust and think through the consequences.

However, for the one dropping the news, they are often anxious to get on with their plans and follow through as they have thought it out.

All and all, this is quite a set up for distress and conflict.

The one wanting to follow through feels thwarted, the other feels pushed.

Meanwhile, the kids may reasonably align with the parent pushed into turmoil, feeling responsible for their emotional well-being.

The challenging dynamics escalate.

If the one triggering the separation is already in or soon enters a new relationship in this turmoil, the kids may come to reject that parent’s new love interest, sight unseen.

That new person may represent the demise of their family as well as upset and betrayal of the parent disheveled by the news.

Sure, if you want to separate, truth is, you may do so.

Do know however, that how you go about it, the process of separation and the time for all to adjust, can weigh heavily into any fallout and what transpires as a result.

Do allow time for adjustment.

Do know that introducing a new love interest too fast too soon can work against yourself.

Be patient and where your decisions and actions have caused distress, take responsibility.

Apologize without reservation.

An apology for creating turmoil and change doesn’t mean you are bad. It means you have empathy for the impact of your actions on others.

You can still follow through with the intention to separate.

You have had time to think it through and adjust.

Their turn.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

To Courageous, Competent Women

Growing up, my mother was always involved with a volunteer group.

I never knew what they did, only that she was busy attending numerous meetings and frequently making dozens of phone calls.

As a boy many of those meetings took place in our home. I grew up getting to know these many women, but never what they did. They were lovely women, busy in their endeavor.

The most I knew was that they were busy fundraising to support some cause in Israel and Canada.

Her time with this group placed a responsibility on my dad.

He was a workaholic, busy with the accounting firm he led. However, he never seemed to complain when her needs superseded his own. He accommodated. With that, they got along.

Looking back, it was somewhat of an anomaly given this was during the 1950’s and 60’s, him giving way to her needs and wants.

Their relationship seemed to flow well. It was clearly loving.

If I recall any harsh words between them it would have been about his smoking. Mom sure wasn’t a fan. She concerned herself for his health. Indeed his smoking would contribute to his demise, although not the cause of death. He passed away at 60-years-of-age of an aortic rupture during surgery.

It wasn’t until later in life, I was likely in my 20’s, that I came to understand the role of the group mom held in such high regard.

The organization funded services for women and children in Israel and funded supplies for similar groups in Canada. Indeed, they supported women and children fleeing abusive situations by funding women’s shelters and daycares.

Mom has a certificate from the government from a few years ago already, honoring her for 70 years of continuous volunteer service.

At 98 she still manages the phones. Those who are still with us continue to meet and fundraise.

All are my role models of strong, courageous, competent women. That is how I see women.

I believe they still see me as that little boy.

I admire them so.

The organization, Na’amat Canada.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Hey, Tough Guy.

Toxic masculinity doesn’t begin in adulthood.

It begins in infancy with the expectation that boys must tough it out, suck it up, not cry and never need soothing.

Indeed, that toxic masculinity for some is beat into them verbally, some physically.

“I’ll give you something to cry about.”

“Don’t be a suck.”

“You’re a cry-baby.”

The infant come toddler learns from an age that young that their acceptance and worth depends upon submerging their feelings of pain and/or fear.

Indeed, the fear of punishment as well as abandonment are powerful forces causing the very young to avoid showing any so-called negative emotion.

It is not that the child can’t show some feelings.

Those positive feelings of joy, happiness, laughter are permitted, just not any that may be interpreted as coming from a place of weakness.

When your boys cry, do not admonish, but seek to support, soothe and solve. Remember those three “S’s”.

Support, soothe and solve.

As a mantra it can help you approach your boy with empathy and compassion. It can help validate their feeling, yet find ways to resolve and manage those feelings that may be intense and overwhelming.

Therein is strength and capacity and resiliency.

With that, come adulthood, those boys, now men will have better capacity to manage emotions, life, their well-being and relationships.

Support, soothe and solve.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Before Sending Your Kid to Counseling….

While I am pleased so many parents value counseling and want it for their kids, do know that it is not always helpful and indeed, can be harmful.

Many kids interpret counseling as them having done something bad for which they must now talk to someone. That creates a scary endeavor.

In other situations kids are brought to counseling for behavior that actually originates from parental issues such as divorce, abuse and/or drug/alcohol issues.

Counseling in those situations won’t affect the cause. Counseling can provide the impression that something is being done for the child yet nothing changes. With that, counseling can feel useless to the child and that experience can undermine ever trying it again.

When kids are stuck between separated parents in conflict, counseling can actually escalate the conflict to which they are subjected, making their lives more difficult.

For all these reasons and more, when a parent seeks counseling for their child, I only begin by meeting with both parents first (assuming safe to do so).

Meeting with parents first gives an opportunity to obtain a developmental history and explore matters within the family as well as the parents’ backgrounds. Clues to issues affecting the child may be found through this information gathering.

It is often the case that by meeting with the parents, they can be better helped to address the issues of the child. This better serves the child in the long run as parents are typically more influential and definitely in the child’s life longer than any counselor.

If I do meet with a child, I regularly have parents present for at least the first meeting.

This is to enable a safer feeling introduction for the child, my having coached the parents on how to introduce the concept of counseling, my involvement and managing the first meeting.

Counseling is a serious psychosocial intervention.

One wouldn’t call a surgeon expecting surgery without an investigation and tests first. So too with counseling.

It’s all about the well-being of the child.

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Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Assessing Alcohol Issues: Context Matters

She only had one drink a day.

It happened to be when the kids were arriving home from school. There were three kids, all girls.

The eldest, nine, came in first. She was excited about the grade and comments on a project and wanted to show her mom.

Mom however reminder her daughter it was “tea time” and told the daughter she would look at her report after supper.

The shine was off the penny for the nine-year-old as she went upstairs disappointed, without so much as her mother’s notice.

Next came in the seven-year-old. She had been bullied at school that day. She bypassed her mother to sit in front of the TV, although more staring into space. She was unnoticed by her mother.

Lastly came in the five-year-old. Bounding in happily she tripped on the threshold of the door. Falling, she banged her knee leaving the smallest of little red marks upon it.

She wailed and ran to her mother who instantly redirected her to find the eldest sister.

All she wanted was a little attention and perhaps a Dora the Explorer bandaid to feel special.

She did find her eldest sister who quickly gave her that hug, yet felt resentful for having to do so.

Mother only had one drink a day. It happened to be when the kids were arriving home from school.

In assessing issues with alcohol consumption, we look beyond the number of beverages consumed. We also look at context and impact.

Mom wouldn’t believe she had a problem with alcohol.

During that time of consumption, mom was doing her best to suppress her memories of her mom whose drinking was far more serious.

It’s not always quantity. It’s also impact.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Sure, Use if You Want To…

(Addressing issues primarily from a recreational perspective.)

Marijuana, cannabis, is ubiquitous, meaning it is found everywhere.

In Canada we can grow up to 4 plants privately and cannabis shops are showing up in many communities.

To add, few drugs have such mythology and false information surrounding them.

It remains however that marijuana, in all its forms is a drug, that it is psycho-active, and that side effects remain, the severity of which may depend on quantity consumed as well as the age of the person consuming.

For some, at the highest levels of consumption is the risk of Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome. This is a recurrent nausea and vomiting, sometimes relieved through a hot shower.

At lower yet regular levels of consumption is amotivational syndrome. This is where the person loses there gumption or drive to fulfill age-appropriate goals.

If consumed at moderate to higher levels as a teen or young adult there is also the risk of triggering psychosis.

Apart from the potential harms as noted, there is also those who use the substance to self-medicate for any number of physical or mental issues.

While some may indeed experience relief, for many others this will exacerbate their condition and prolong obtaining more appropriate treatment.

So despite the availability, mythology and false information, there remain significant potential harms.

People can still acquire and use at their discretion. We do ask that people consider their sources of information and supply so that use is as safe as possible.

It is not recommended for use in adolescence given the susceptibility by some to harms mentioned and the fact that the adolescent brain is still in development.

Marijuana. It’s a drug and as with all drugs, caution should be exercised.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.