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Choosing Mr. Right – 6 Strategies for Safer Decisions….

Some women find it difficult finding Mr. Right. They may be jumping into the relationship too quickly.  These strategies may save a lot of disappointment and hurt:

1) Determine if this should even get started:

For whatever reason, men of limited virtue seem to have radar for vulnerable women. So the first question to ask him is, “Are you single”. If not, don’t even bother to ask anything else, just run. Developing rapport with a married man or a man living with another woman is just asking for trouble.

2) Find out if he is still licking old wounds:

If the fellow is separated, find out how long the separation has been. If too short, he may still be carrying a torch for the other woman. Not long enough and he may not have looked at himself to figure out his own contribution to the demise. Somewhere in the middle and he may just be sexually hungry. In any event, it can take six months to well over a year to get past a prior relationship and be ready for another. Be careful not to be his transitional relationship or just the answer to his pent up sexual frustration. These relationships tend not to last.

3) Take a drinking/drug inventory:

The more the booze (or drugs), the greater likelihood of problems. Ask him how much he drinks. You aren’t looking for his assessment of his drinking, but actual numbers. So, if he says he is a social drinker, ask him how often he socializes, with whom and how many alcoholic beverages per occasion. More than six drinks a week or more than 4 per occasion and the risk of problems begin to escalate. It would be wise to take a pass. As for illicit drugs, totally out of the question.

4) Check out his respect for you:

Assuming the fellow is unattached, not licking old wounds, and not drinking more than a little, start slow and get to know him. Emotional attachment clouds rational judgement, so use your head before your heart. As you get to know each other through dating, make your own preferences known. See if you share in decisions and if your input is accepted and valued. If decision-making is all one-sided there is a big clue that you do not have a voice in the relationship. Further, if values and goals are different or if there are behaviors at issue, discuss them. If these issues cannot be resolved or if you find your views dismissed now then sex, marriage, cohabiting or having children will not make this any better. You might be better off leaving now and starting the process again.

5) Put your health first:

If indeed you are ready for sex, the fellow must wear a condom. There simply is no other device that can reduce the risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease. While you are at it, practice another form of contraception at the same time. No one contraceptive is 100% foolproof. Combining a contraceptive with a condom will greatly reduce the risk of both contraception and STDs. If the fellow refuses to wear a condom or one is not available, then no intercourse. If the fellow objects, he is telling you that your health is secondary to his sexual gratification. This is not the basis of a caring relationship and signals an exit point.

6) Continue to get to know each other:

If you have gotten this far and now think this relationship has substance, continue to court for at least a year before cohabiting or marriage. People are often on their best behavior in the beginning of relationships. A period of courtship allows the couple to get comfortable with each other such that their true self emerges. See if you like him then. If so, then consider formalizing your relationship. If you find yourself being marginalized, pulled from old friends and/or family, this could be a sign that you are being isolated to only be available to the fellow. If this is the case, run.

Just like it takes time and effort to churn milk into butter, it takes time to determine the goodness of fit in relationships. Slow the process down and take the above strategies as steps along the way. The goal is a stable, healthy and sustainable relationship to truly meet mutual needs and interests rather than a quick jump into the pool, holding your nose, hoping the water isn’t polluted. Finding Mr. Right requires time and choices.

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 Skype.

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

 

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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, 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 Dundas and 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.

 

Want to Build a Successful Practice? Answer two questions…

If you want to grow your peacemaking practice, consider these two questions;

  1. What do you hope to help others achieve through your service?
  2. What are all the ways you can help others achieve the outcome you seek for them?

Once you answer those two questions, forget about websites and blog telling me what you are… tell me what you hope to help your clients achieve and the many ways you can go about it. That is how you build your practice and service offerings.

Put that on your website and in your blogs. Speak to people about meeting their needs and how you can go about doing so.

When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them, “I help people feel better about themselves and I help people get along with others as best as possible.”

I have a long list of ways I go about it.

The rest is commentary and details.

Believing in the power of collaborative practice, mediation and other peacemaking approaches, I am keen to help others build successful practices

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 Skype.

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

 

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

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, 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 Dundas and 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.

 

Mental Illness – Stigma still has impact…

It is not uncommon for me to meet with couples where at least some of the source of their distress is an undiagnosed and untreated mental illness. Where I suspect a mental illness, I refer the person to their family physician for assessment, and where then diagnosed, treatment.

Supporting a person to attend with their physician for assessment can be challenging and then of course, where recommended, supporting a person to use medication can be the next hurdle.

In my experience, when the person I suspect as having a mental illness sees the doctor without their partner, there is a greater probability of my concerns being found as unsupported.

If the person attends with their partner, then the likelihood of a diagnosis supporting my concern is quite high.

When these concerns have arisen in the context of separated parents in conflict over the care of their kids, the likelihood of my concerns being seen as founded is near zero and in these instances, I am likely to be vilified for even raising the concern.

These are extraordinary variations. What does all this mean?

Sadly, mental illness is still seen as stigmatizing. It is still looked upon as saying there is something inherently wrong with the person, that they are somehow defective as a human being. In the case of separated parents the stigma is made worse over concern that an actual diagnosis will be used against the person in the context of a custody/access dispute.

I can also tell you from my experience, that where my concerns are validated by the physician’s assessment and then the person accepts treatment, in those cases, things more typically improve. In those cases we can then go on to discuss the implications and management of the disorder. In those cases, while relationships may still be difficult, they are more likely to survive and even thrive. In custody/access disputes, when the concern is properly assessed and then if necessary, treated, it lowers those issues from the list of concerns.

From a custody/access perspective, we are less concerned about the diagnosis per se and more concerned  with behavior and functioning as it relates to the care of the children. So if diagnosis and treatment leads to better functioning, there is actually a less likelihood that this will lead to greater implications in the conflict than if the person remains untreated and the issues continue to show in behavior and functioning. (FYI – every case is different and I do appreciate that some individuals will have awful experience in their mental health issues still being used against them, however on the whole, this remains the case. I am sorry if your personal experience differs.)

If your clinician or mental health worker or assessor is concerned about you having a mental illness, all we want is for you to have it looked into. Our only concern is your well-being and your being able to meet your goals and objectives in a peaceful relationship.

If you suspect your partner as having a mental illness, please appreciate it is much to take in. It often requires much time to process, consider and look into. If assessed as having a mental illness, it then can take much time again to consider medicinal options. While counseling is important and helpful, so too is medication and the research tells us that most people do best with a combination of both.

The knowledge and attitude of the partner is also important in all this as that too can lead to stigma if one takes a negative view on mental illness and treatment option. Thus the partner’s views can also influence the outcome.

If these concerns arise in the context of a custody/access dispute, if you want what is best for your kids, do not use this as a weapon, but as a concern. Your former partner will need to feel safe in order to address it and in addressing it, your kids will benefit.

Mental illness shouldn’t carry the stigma it still does. Fearing it and not supporting those whose may be affected by a mental illness, now maybe that should be stigmatized.

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 Skype.

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

 

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

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, 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 Dundas and 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.

 

 

 

 

 

What? You don’t Screen for Domestic Violence?

I am gobsmacked.

I posted to my social media (Linked In) and to several of the chat rooms there, about the naivety of counselors who do not screen for domestic violence prior to meeting with couples in counseling and included this blog post: Is It Safe?

In the regular Linked In news feed my post and related article was met very positively, including:

  • Very important issue. We “helpers” tend to believe that going to therapy, mediation, or counselling with us “can’t hurt”. We have to be mindful that when we intervene in the lives of others just the act of intervening itself can have negative effect if we don’t assess appropriateness. The risk of escalated violence is one big example. Sending a child or teenager to be “fixed” when the problem is dysfunction in the family is another. Engaging in a process is not always benign.
  • The trust people place in us when they seek help is humbling. We must remember it and respect it.
  • I have to screen because most of my clients have drug/alcohol issues and i assess immediately if they need more treatment than I can give them such as detox, rehab etc. which can be more life/death situations more than most therapists have to do.
  • Excellent article and so important.
  • Great points Gary. Thank you for being this to the front of mind.

However, in one of the group chat areas specifically for therapists, I was met with defensive replies where counselors defended the practice of not screening, but indicated rely on what transpired during sessions to in a sense, figure out if abuse was occurring within the relationship.

Responses included:

  • I think it’s Ok to set the initial appointment and ask the questions there. Much can be inferred from a face-to-face meeting that may not be as obvious via phone.
  • Marriage and Family Therapists are trained to asked questions in the initial session and assure informed consent. I do not know what is required of a social worker. I disagree with the “naive” statement, believe me after a masters and 3000 hours of supervised work…no naivety is left in regards to informed consent! There may be, however, those who do not think it is necessary to go over the paperwork clients have signed, that would be negligence!
  • Still I do not agree with your statement. Your given reason has not ground. How do you know that other people are not screening enough?  Now in terms of violence in the relation or family focus is not relation at all. If you recognize that. Violence is very different spectrum of self.

My replies included to the defensive comments included:

  • These issues are well recognized in the fields of family mediation and family arbitration. Standards of practice for mediation require screening for domestic violence and power imbalances and in the Province of Ontario for a Family Arbitration to be enforceable through the courts, the couple subject to arbitration must have been screened prior to the arbitration. The standards of practice and Ontario requirements are based on a review of social science literature as it pertains to the risks regarding bringing two people in conflict together where they shared an intimate relationship. I hold dearly to the view that the same or similar risks are present, particularly in the context of couple counseling. When we bring two people together where one may be dangerous and we have no inkling in advance, we can inadvertently increase the risk of harm. From my perspective it remain naivety to think otherwise and contrary to best practices in related fields.
  • Interesting responses. By the time the couple is in the office together, the genie may be out of the bottle and the impact of disclosure in the context of an abusive or dangerous relationship will have already occurred… Similar to the physician’s motto of “do no harm”, I wonder why some therapists may think that screening isn’t of value. It would be interesting to hear your view on this blog post: https://garydirenfeld.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/marital-counseling-look-before-you-leap/
  • While I do believe in the value of clinical wisdom, such as when you say, “believe me” and provide data on your experience, clinical wisdom may still fall short of the social research. Our beliefs, created and reinforced from years of doing things the same way may actually lead to implicit bias as opposed to naivety. As per the research study above, the findings suggest that as many as 79% of counselings at the time of the research conduct pre-screening interviews before counseling begins. It remains an ethical obligation to keep people safe (as possible). I can only hope that other counselors reviewing this post consider their approach.

I want to say without hesitation that while we may never know with certainty if domestic violence is occurring or necessarily the dangerousness with which it may be occurring, we do have a duty to screen before bringing couples into counseling.

If the couple is already with you when the issue of violence or power imbalances emerge, even if the couple appears together and reasonable in the session, it still creates the risk of retaliatory and dangerous behavior when the couple leaves your office and has privacy if one of the couple harbors resentment.

Counseling is not like water. Counseling does carry risks. We should seek to minimize the risks as screening may provide,although appreciating that screening isn’t perfect and we may have false positives and we may have false negatives. This doesn’t mean though that we don’t screen.

Just to add, there is an abundance of research to now support screening for domestic violence. I would only encourage people to review the available literature if there is any shred of uncertainty. After reviewing the literature, then consider training in any of the many available courses.

Here are just a few interesting resources:

12 Reasons Why Couples Counseling Is Not Recommended When Domestic Violence Is Present

Please screen.

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 Skype.

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

 

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

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, 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 Dundas and 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.

Parent/Child Contact Problems Between Separated Parents

(My response to the Washington Post article, They were taken from their mom to rebond with their dad. It didn’t go well.)

Sometimes the issue is him. Sometimes the issue is her. Sometimes the issue is him AND her.

I do see people who are violent and I do see people who have remarkably distorted views and act inappropriately even though consistent with those distorted views. Sometimes such people do have children together. Sometimes the situation involves only one parent with a serious problem whose problem affects the other parent and children.

All I know, these are the most challenging of cases and the disputes are so significant that even those of us who seek to help can wind up tarnished in the aftermath.

I remember a psychiatrist colleague in the 1980’s at the children’s mental health center where I was employed saying our success rate with the seriously disturbed kids we were treating then was abysmally low. Thousands of dollars were spent on treatment with public money. No one called us gold-diggers though and no one said we were only seeking to help them to line our own pockets.

These days our treatment in support of helping separated parents where there is conflict over the relationship and access of the children between them remain unsuccessful too. However, we are asked to wade in. We are asked for the best our judgement and expertise may provide.

Because of the intensity of the opposing views, we are bound to frustrate to the point of anger those people where our views do not align with their own. Then we too are vilified.

I don’t for a minute think the term Parental Alienation is the issue as it is made out to be.

The issue remains that in the dispute over child/parent contact, we the professionals and courts may never know with full certainty that which transpires privately. Further, we may never satisfy with one decision people who present with such opposing views. Thus complaints will be made, rightly or wrongly.

Everyone involved is at risk of harm in these circumstances. The kids, the parents and those who had sought to be helpful.

My heart goes out to those who find themselves in these circumstances.

I no longer wade into these court battles. I will teach how to live more peacefully to those who are amenable. Sadly, no guarantees. Please don’t tell me I am in it for the money.

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 Skype.

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

 

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

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, 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 Dundas and 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.

Want Marital Success? Quit Tackling Each Other!

Sometimes I meet with couples where there is a real tit for tat. Each person does do things that upsets the other. Sometimes it is overt and other times it is more sneaky, although both know what’s happening.

In couple counseling, each likes to point the finger at the other.  It as if that justifies one’s own poor behavior. The circular arguments continue and it is as if they want the counselor to determine who is right and who is wrong, who really started it and so, who is to blame.

The counselor will never really know in this instances and just to be clear, ascribing blame in these circumstances rarely improves a relationship.

If you really want a better relationship then the challenge becomes resisting tit for tat behavior – not using the untoward behavior of the other as an excuse to condone your own retaliatory behavior.

I use a sports analogy, which is interesting because I am not really a sports person. However…

Consider football. The quarterback throws to the receiver who has to run the ball to the goal line. The other members of the team try to block and tackle the playing of the opposing team who are trying to steal the ball or thwart the play.

In the unworkable marriage, couples are playing a game where they are blocking and tackling each other – members on the same team. If you want the relationship to improve, quite doing that!

Instead of blocking and tackling each other, run interference to clear the path for your partner. Help your partner achieve their goal. At the very least, if you can’t run interference, then at least steer clear and don’t get in the way.

In real life terms this means;

  • Clean up after yourself;
  • If you get home first, consider preparing the meal;
  • Find a way to share in all the chores and household responsibilities or at least divvy them up reasonably;
  • Follow through on your responsibilities;
  • Do not defend the indefensible. Sure you may love your own parent, but if they are at risk of creating harm in your family, respect what may be a need for a reasonable boundary;
  • Do not scare or engage in behavior or activities known to create upset/tension/fear in the other;
  • Do not leave clutter in areas your partner needs to access – clear they way;
  • Provide each other positive feedback and demonstrate appreciation.
  • Change the toilet paper roll;
  • Check the kids’ homework and maintain appropriate expectations and monitoring;
  • Don’t talk badly of the other to family or friends;
  • Spend time together even in the midst of stress, kids and work;
  • Don’t keep score between each other;
  • Share affection;
  • Do kind and unexpected good deeds for each other.

It is only when each prioritizes the other does a reasonable relationship follow. If it is lop-sided or each only acts in their own interest, the relationship is apt to fail.

So, instead of blocking and tackling each other, run block and tackle FOR each other. Clear the way to make life easier for each other. Set each other up for a touchdown.

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 Skype.

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

 

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

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, 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 Dundas and 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.

 

Results in: Presentation a Success!

I am pleased to share my workshop evaluation from the 2017 OCLF / OAFM Conference, helping people build their successful practice. Details as follows…

___________________________________________________________________________________

Collaborative Practice Niagara hosted the 10th Conference of the Ontario Collaborative Law Federation (OCLF) held in association with the Ontario Association for Family Mediation (OAFM) at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Niagara Falls, Ontario on September 14, 15 & 16, 2017. The conference theme was:

Collaborative Practice and Mediation: The Power of Interest Based Negotiation.

Workshop Presenter:

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

Workshop Title:

Build, Brand, Market, Close: Building Your Successful Peacemaking Practice

Workshop Description:

Putting up a website, the modern version of a shingle, does not a successful peacemaking practice make. This workshop is aimed at helping peacemaking practitioners grow a successful practice with attention to: innovative and flexible services; differentiating your service from others; conveying your services to others and; converting referrals into actual clients.  (90 minutes)

Number of Participants: 26

  • Lawyers: 9
  • Family Professionals: 1
  • Financial Professionals: 1
  • Mediators: 5
  • Educators: 1
  • Lawyer/Mediators: 4
  • Family Professional/Mediators: 5

Evaluation:

Absolutely Somewhat Uncertain Probably Not Absolutely Not
Was the course consistent with its objectives and title? 25 1
Was the course appropriately challenging? 19 5
Did the course expand your knowledge in this topic? 21 5
Was the material relevant to your professional activities? 24 1
Did the instructor know the subject matter? 23 3
Was the instructor well prepared? 26
Was the instructor attentive to questions? 26
Would you attend another course given by this instructor? 25 1
Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor
How would you evaluate the overall value of this program? 18 7 1
Please rate the presenter’s knowledge, expertise and teaching ability. 22 4

Comments:

  1. Would make a great webinar or full-day workshop.
  2. Very enlightening perspective.
  3. Wish you had more time, especially re: use specific to lawyers.
  4. Great content.
  5. Had hoped there would be more “peacemaker” focus but understand time constraint and focus on marketing any practice. Excellent tips and materials.
  6. Practical and engaging.
  7. Gary is highly qualified for this topic and focuses (apparently) on our behaviors that make or break our effectiveness.
  8. I realized that I know you from Linked In. “God” did I search for “where do I know this guy from!” LOL! 🙂
  9. Needed more time to attend longer day training.
  10. Enjoyable and valuable and thought provoking. Got me writing lists of my own ideas while you were speaking.
  11. Gary Direnfeld was very easy to follow and interesting. I would love to learn more and wish the workshop was longer!
  12. Thank the presenter for interesting and important unique information.
  13. Needed a longer time slot.
  14. Great presentation. Very informative. Enjoyed it.
  15. This could have been a longer presentation. There was a lot there.

It was a pleasure to present on behalf of the OCLF and OAFM, helping people build successful practices!

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 Skype.

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

 

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

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, 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 Dundas and 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.

Growing Your Collaborative Law Practice

Are you a Collaborative Lawyer looking for referrals? Have you joined a practice group believing that your membership will facilitate referrals? Have you been disappointed by a lack of referrals or action by your practice group in terms of generating referrals?

If you are described by the above, you are not alone. However, you are likely misguided.

Reliance on your practice group membership is among the least productive strategies for generating referrals. Your membership is hopefully to facilitate your training and support and hopefully some public education in general about the nature and practice of Collaborative Law.  Even a listing on your practice group’s website will draw little in terms of referral. While it may feel necessary, it is hardly sufficient.

The most productive strategies for marketing your practice and getting referrals are those initiated by yourself and exercised over the course of time. When it comes to marketing a practice in Collaborative Law, you must realize, you are the practice; you are the brand.

To establish you as your brand, you must figure out what differentiates you from your colleagues and you must be able to communicate that to the persons who need your service.

Your communication must be understandable to and delivered at a level of your client’s comprehension. In other words, you must learn to speak their language, not yours. This makes you seem real as well as accessible to them.

Next you have to determine the platforms you need to use in order to reach your potential clients. Notice my words, “need to use“. While a website is now seen as necessary, so too are blogs and social media. The issue isn’t if you use them, but now, how do you use them.

To be successful in your practice, you must appreciate your practice as a small business and treat it as such. So these three steps:

  1. Build: Figure out your service offerings;
  2. Brand: Determine how you want to differentiate yourself;
  3. Market: Deploy the power of the Internet and social media to convey a message in language accessible to your potential clients:
  4. Close: Learn the strategies for managing the referrals as they come in to turn referrals into clients.

Intrigued? Need additional support?

It would be my pleasure to provide direct consultation services to you and workshop services on behalf of your practice group.

I am Gary Direnfeld. As well as being a social worker I help people build their peacemaking or counseling practices. Want a successful practice? It would be my pleasure to be of service.

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

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@garydirenfeld.com
http://www.garydirenfeld.com

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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, 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 Dundas and 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.

Are You Walking on Eggshells?

Maybe it’s the alcohol or perhaps the temper. May it’s the sadness or even being late.

Things happen and people behave. However, in many such occasions, we pretend things are other than they are. We tiptoe, walk on eggshells, look the other way or assign strange or different meaning to what is. We pretend otherwise. Why?

Fear mostly. We worry about what would happen if the truth were known.

R.D. Lang was a Scottish psychiatrist, popular and controversial for his views on mental illness, causes and treatments. He wrote a number of books from the 1960’s to 1980’s which were as much philosophical as psychological or psychiatric.

Of the many things he wrote about, one concept that resonated with me was the one he called mystification of experience. It is from this mystification of experience that supposedly people could be driven to mental illness. This mystification of experience is all about pretending that things are other than they are to such an extent, that the mystified version is taken as reality. Therein the person must distort or contort themselves to function in a dysfunctional place or family. (Think of gaslighting.)

  • Dad isn’t an alcoholic, he just has trouble getting up in the morning;
  • Mom isn’t depressed, she’s just a little sad;
  • Uncle Joe doesn’t have a gambling problem, it’s just his way of having fun with friends;
  • Jake isn’t violent, he just wants you to know how strongly he feels about something;
  • Mom isn’t extreme in her feelings, she is just passionate.

The list can go on and on. There are so many dysfunctional behaviors that can be given a positive spin.

Some people within their family or relationship buy into the mystified version and some do not. Of those who don’t, they look like the one’s with a problem – calling the other person out or behaving badly themselves in response or perhaps drowning their bad feelings with drugs or alcohol as a means to cope. It can very well be the one who doesn’t buy into the shenanigans who appears the most affected, yet at the same time, may be the sanest.

Either way, if you grow up in a home where there was mystification of experience, you can become the person who doesn’t confront issues as they arise or the person who needs to take on every instance of doubt in someone else’s behavior. Either way, there is a set-up for your own problematic behavior.

  • If you walk on eggshells or tiptoe around issues, you may never see a resolution to your concerns. Real issues may fester and get worse.
  • If you confront every instance of doubt, you may actually be projecting your concerns onto another and reading things wrong. Then the other person feels blamed for things they didn’t do.

If you grew up in a home marked by mystification of experience and you haven’t realized or deal with it, it can have a big affect on your life now.

The antidote or cure or treatment, according to Lang, is to make what is hidden or mystified or secret, open. We make what was covert and make it overt. We call out what is going on and own what we see. We address it forthrightly and own what is happening. The challenge is to do so civilly, diplomatically, peacefully.

For that, counseling may be of assistance.

No longer pretend. Deal with life as it really is. Learn to discern fact from fiction.

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 Skype.

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

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

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, 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 Dundas and 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.

Parental Separation and Conflict: Resolving Disputes in 2017….

Wow, have things changed when it comes to helping separated parents sort out the care of their children between them…

It used to be that anyone working with separated parents had no formal training beyond their professional training. So in the 1990’s coming from working in children’s mental health to private practice, I was asked by family lawyers if I could provide custody and access assessments. Like everyone else who did so back then, I applied my professional training and experience in terms of providing children’s mental health assessments to the task of providing custody and access assessments. There was no formal training for this task. However, I was successful and well received.

At the same time, mediation was in its infancy. I would be asked if I could provide mediation to help people resolve their custody and access dispute. Back in the day, the lawyers sought for us to actually provide evaluative mediation, meaning we would still assess the situation, provide our input and help the parents resolve matters based on our professional views. This too was well received.

With time, we would then be asked to provide an evaluation, tell the parents of our views and apparently the parents were then in agreement to follow through with whatever was suggested. That was defacto arbitration.

Throughout the 1990’s even if a parent didn’t love the outcome of an assessment, mediation or defacto arbitration, they still thanked the service provider and carried on. That was the end of it. Even if the matter was decided at court, the likely outcome was a follow through by both parents.

Things changed in the new millennium. There was a rise in men’s rights activists and there was also a rise in terms of concern about violence against women. As such men were seeking greater equity in terms of custodial rights as well as residential time with their children. Women were seeking greater protection from violent men. If ever there was a gender war before in the child custody/access arena, these two movements added fuel to the fire which is not to say either was inappropriate.

Along the way, services such as assessments, mediation, arbitration and newly arrived parenting coordination were slowly becoming more formalized. Collaborative Law, a fledgling movement was only just beginning to gather a head of steam.

As the first decade of the new millennium unfolded, to be accredited as a mediator (although still unregulated) one must take a course in domestic violence and power imbalances so as to be aware or lower potential risk of harm or lop-sided agreements. To provide family arbitration, one must also not only have been trained in arbitration generally, but if a non-lawyer, attend a 30-hour training in family law as well as a 14-hour training in domestic violence and power imbalances. For family arbitrations to be recognized, the parties (parents) subject to the process must be screened for domestic violence and power imbalances, although there is no stipulation as to who provides that screening or what the training, if any, entails. As service providers, we were then subject to greater expectations and training, which was good for producing greater consistency with each approach and greater safety for those participating.

Also throughout the first decade of the new millennium men have seen an overall steady increase in the amount of residential time ordered by Canadian courts. This, to the chagrin of the mothers.

These outcomes have all contributed to a more complex family law system as well as the likelihood of more contested disputes. As those disputes have escalated, so too have the allegations of domestic violence and allegations of parental alienation.

By the second decade of the new millennium, when service providers used to be thanked for their work regardless of outcome, the service providers were increasingly becoming the new target of blame. It was learned that if one didn’t like an outcome and if the service provider was implicated as somehow deficient, it afforded a dissatisfied parent the opportunity of a “do over.”

With that, the past 10 years have seen a dramatic increase of complaints to service providers’ licensing bodies. Indeed, every one of my closest colleagues have had that experience – dissatisfied parents in the midst of custody/access battles complaining to their licensing body.

More and more seasoned professionals in private practice who were providing these necessary services are no longer doing so as a result. They recognize the personal risk involved to their professional reputation and practice as well as the futility of a process that now may just as much escalate conflict as resolve it.

Given the rise of complexity of the family law court system, many, if not most of the parents who turn to it for relief, neither find the relief they seek or can afford a lawyer to manage the process and system. As such, we have also seen a dramatic rise in self-represented litigants whose model of court is influenced by Judge Judy or Judge Roy Brown.

Many of the self-represented litigants enter the court as an arena prepared to do vicious battle. Trouble is, they forget that those with whom they do battle, they must carry on afterwards in a co-parenting relationship. Resentment remains, and retribution is the sought after relief to discharge the resentment. With that, the battle continues.

Even the Judiciary and reasonable family law lawyers recognize the current folly of court. However, they are stuck in a system ever spiraling out of control, taking with it parents and children.

Having seen and lived the changes over time, I opted out.

I no longer involve myself in family court. I seek to provide peacemaking services such as mediation, Collaborative Law and support services to help those struggling through with difficult co-parents or through contested or other dispute resolution services. I help people take a broader look at their involvement in conflict, the mechanisms of conflict and offer strategies to better manage oneself in the circumstances so as to minimize risk of escalation and maximize opportunities towards more peaceful co-existence.

To those parents who are new to their separation/divorce, I provide this brief history to help you better understand the context in which your dispute is embedded. My goal in doing so is to help appreciate the social and legal changes of the past 10 to 20 years and how they will impact the resolution of your dispute. In other words, if you choose court or if you choose a hardball litigator to resolve your issues and if you prepare to do battle, then do expect an all out costly brawl.

If you are at all hoping to ever co-parent reasonably at some point in time, then be wary of hiring hardball litigators lest you be lost in the vortex of the family law system and never-ending motions and counter-motions. In lieu of a hardball litigator, seek those family lawyers who have invested in their own training for things like mediation and Collaborative Law.

Do also consider seeking support and where a third party may be necessary to help resolve matters, seek those whose disposition is towards that peaceful co-existence. Be mindful of the fact that the outcome of court imposed decisions now favors a more equalized (doesn’t mean actually equal) outcome for the sharing of children’s time between the parents. One doesn’t have to like or dislike these social changes, but to deny or resist them can bring greater battle to your dispute. Acquaint yourself with current realities.

I also caution parents to resist the battle cry, “I am acting in the best interests of the children” as that is likely a belief held by parents on both sides and that particular battle cry often only serves to intensify the battle. Instead, seek solutions while laying silent on any battle cry. Identify concerns and interests and work with those who may help develop a road-map to a better place.

Settle into the fact that things have gone awry and that there is often no simple one-size immediate solution, but rather a process over time that will need to unfold. In the toughest of situations, practice meditation to help resolve or manage the stress so as to enable patience.

If you need a mantra or thought or ideals to hold in meditation, consider the words of Max Erhmann with his writings, Desiderata:

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

In order to strive to be happy and resolve conflict in 2017, seek peace and act peacefully.

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 Skype.

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

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

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, 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 Dundas and 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.