(503) 222-6678 - Portland, Oregon
(360) 256-0448 Vancouver, Washington


ADD in Adults
Parenting a Child with ADD
Coping with Anxiety Disorders
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Overcoming Depression
Managing Stress
Conquering Fears & Phobias
Overcoming Social Phobia
Couples at Work & Home
Dual Career Couples
Families in Business
Recognizing High Conflict Divorce
Conflict & Communication
Couples at Work & Home
Love, Sex & Intimacy
Maintaining Strong Marriage
Dual Career Couples
Advice for Singles Only
Alcoholism Recovery
Stop Smoking
Weight Control
Headache Relief
Holistic Health
Managing Blood Pressure
Releasing Unresolved Stress
Am I a Good Parent
Blended Families
Gifted Child
Coping with ADD/ADHD
Adoptive Families
Gifted Adults
When to Seek Help
Psychotherapy Options
Laid-Off from Work
Calendar of Events
Media Coverage
Press Center
Related New Stories
Enriching Your Live Archive
Entrepreneurial Couples Archive

Enriching Your Life!

Sign up for my FREE newsletter! Get practical tips for you and your family.

Kathy Marshack News

Addicted to Sugar? You Can Kick the Habit!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Stop Sugar Addiction - You can kick the habitWith the Holiday season upon us, it’s a good time to re-evaluate how your family’s is going to handle all the sugary treats put before them. We’ve all heard about the dangers of eating refined sugar. It’s over 99% pure calories, without much nutritional value. Yet, various resources report that Americans are still eating 150 to 170 pounds of sugar a year.

Sugar is often a hidden ingredient in many of the prepared foods you buy. It can be labeled “organic,” “raw,” or “unprocessed”; whatever form it comes in, it activates a chemical reaction in your body that is comparable to the addictive effects of drugs like cocaine, meth, nicotine, and morphine.

According to a study on the NCBI website reports, “Sugar is noteworthy as a substance that releases dopamine and thus might be expected to have addictive potential.” Another sugar addiction study was published the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Sugar addiction is hard to kick because of the resulting withdrawal symptoms.

What are some of the ways sugar affects your present and future health? Sugar…

  • spikes blood sugar, triggers the release of insulin, leading to a sugar crash;
  • makes people hungry and tired;
  • causes weight gain;
  • contributes to mineral deficiencies;
  • interferes with the actions of calcium and magnesium;
  • suppresses the immune system;
  • increases inflammation;
  • contributes to aggression, depression, ADHD and hyperactivity;
  • raises bad cholesterol, lowers good cholesterol;
  • feeds cancer cells; and
  • alters learning and memory, according to a study at UCLA.

When your blood sugar drops, your body goes into emergency mode, so you crave a fast fix of sugar. It becomes a never ending cycle that you have to consciously break. The good news is that you can make behavioral changes that support a healthier lifestyle. I recommend a holistic approach because there’s an inseparable connection between the mind and the body. When you learn to manage the complicated interactions that take place between the mind, body, and the outside world, you’ll be able to stop your sugar addiction.

If you can’t seem to break the sugar habit on your own and live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

How to Encourage Your Teens to Manage Their Own ADHD Meds

Thursday, October 25, 2018

How to Encourage Your Teens to Manage Their Own ADHD Meds Before They Leave HomeOne of the things that ADHD kids struggle with is taking their medication on a regularly schedule. After all, forgetfulness is one of the symptoms of ADHD. And teens or young adults often convince themselves that they don’t need medication, because they hate the way meds make them feel.

As a parent, it’s important to help your teen view taking ADHD medication seriously. Their ability to focus and concentrate during their scholastic years directly impacts their future quality of life.

Nagging doesn’t work. And you won’t be there when they go off to college or move away from home. Just as you’ve created a Behavioral Plan that you shared with the teacher when they started school, it’s important to create another plan for slowly handing over ADHD med management to your teen.

One of the most important things you can do for your ADHD child is to help them become more aware of how their bodies react with AND without ADHD medication. If they see that the benefits of taking ADHD medication far outweighs the side effects, they’ll be more likely to keep taking it when they’re on their own.

The process of turning over Med Management to your teen will take some time and careful attention on your part. Make sure your teen knows these seven vital things about managing their own ADHD meds:

1. Understand that ADHD is a real medical condition. Just as an asthmatic must use an inhaler regularly, so it’s important to keep a constant supply of ADHD meds so they can do the work that the ADHD brain can’t.

2. Develop greater self awareness. Understand how ADHD affects them personally. Help them discern what feelings, behaviors and actions they can control without medication; and help them identify why they need medication to control other feelings, behaviors and actions.

3. Practice conversational skills. They need to have the confidence to speak openly about their condition with their physician, teachers and future employers.

4. Know the medication. Know the name, the right dose and dosage schedule, as well as, what it does to help alleviate the symptoms of ADHD.

5. Develop a system for regularly taking and reordering medication. Since they can’t rely on their own brains, help them find visual and auditory reminders that work. A pillbox at the breakfast table, a Smartphone alarm or medication reminder app may be helpful.

6. Continue learning life skills. ADHD creates skill gaps. Enlist the assistance of a mental health professional who can help with time management, self-care, and balanced living skills. They can also address emotional challenges or substance abuse problems, if they arise.

7. Prepare what to say when someone, even a friend, wants to buy or take one of their pills. It’s illegal to share medications. Practice possible scenarios, so they can confidently say “no”, without making an issue out of it.

Medication is only part of the treatment for ADHD. Behavioral therapy, emotional counseling and practical support are also needed. If you’d like help in developing a personalized ADHD Medicine Management Plan for your child, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Where on the Spectrum Should Narcissism Fall?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

There are many similarities and overlaps between Asperger’s and Narcissism.Both Narcissism and Autism are on a Spectrum. Narcissism is a personality disorder that ranges from mild to severe. And on the Autism Spectrum, Asperger’s is a high functioning form of Autism. Instead of listing Narcissism and autism on separate Spectrums, should they possibly be classified on the same Spectrum? There is some merit to coming to that conclusion, especially if you’re looking at it through the lens of my Empathy Scale.

I am not alone in seeing the similarities and overlaps between Asperger’s and Narcissism. Dr. Khalid A. Mansoura proposes in an article in the Pan Arab Journal of Psychiatry that narcissistic personality may merit classification as an autistic spectrum disorder.

In her Narcissism or Asperger’s article on Psychology Today, Dr. Susan Heitler concludes, “The bottom line from my perspective is that there is often overlap between these two syndromes.”

Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen suggests that Aspies are narcissistic by the very definition of autism, which means they have Zero Degrees of Empathy, or what I call EmD-0 or Empathy Dysfunction-0. (Read more about Empathy Dysfunction in my new book “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS.”)

What does differ is the motivation behind the behavior. The Aspie’s narcissism is not for the purpose of harming you, as is the case for a true dyed in the wool Narcissist. Sure, it feels the same either way, but it’s motivated differently.

If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, I invite you to sign up for a low cost video conference on either Tuesday, October 30th or Tuesday, November 6th. It’s entitled: Narcissism - The Dark Side of Aspergers. We’ll be exploring the differences between these two disorders. Your Aspie may never acquire empathy, but they can learn to be polite and gracious and follow social rules. It’s not easy to change ingrained narcissistic behavior, but it is possible with Aspies.

If you’ve wasted too much of your precious life trying to accommodate an ASD narcissist, whether it’s a family member, coworker or neighbor, it’s time to seek professional support in rebuilding the life you’re meant to live. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Why Psychotherapy Doesn’t Help Your Aspie…

Monday, October 15, 2018

People with Asperger’s aren’t wired for the relationship format used by most psychotherapists. Are you at your wit’s end? You desperately want to hold your family together so you’re willing to go to a stranger and bare your soul…but your Aspie isn’t helping at all. It’s a fight to get him to go. (Note: It’s not only men that have Aspergers. Women have Asperger’s too.) And when he gets there, he drag his heals, slumps in the chair and refuses to engage with the psychotherapist. Does he think he’s too smart for therapy; that he doesn’t need it; that there’s nothing wrong with him; that you’re the one with the problem? If you can relate to this, please be assured, you’re not alone. And you don’t have to give up!

If you’ve had less than positive experiences with finding a therapist for your Aspie, don’t lose heart. Typical therapy doesn’t work with Aspies, so you need to find a psychologist who specializes in understanding the Asperger’s thought process.

Why is psychotherapy unlikely to work for your Aspie?

People with Asperger’s aren’t wired for the relationship format used by most psychotherapists. Therapists are trained to build on empathic rapport with clients. You need social awareness for that to work, which is something your Aspie doesn’t have. Expecting an Aspie to have empathy into your internal experience or insight into their own is not realistic.

However, what does seem to work is to appeal to their narcissism. Yes, I mean it. Aspies have the same feelings as the rest of us. They feel sad and angry and depressed too. The ticket is to appeal to a plan that promises to make them feel better, if they just follow the rules.

For this reason I recommend a coaching model rather than psychotherapy. In fact I offer this model on line in my video sessions with Aspies around the world. It works because they need tools. They aren’t motivated by making you feel better. Their main concern is feeling better themselves. Of course they want you to feel better too, but it isn't first on their minds. They fully believe if they feel better, you will feel better about them.

Narcissism --- get it?

If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, please join us for this month’s free, international teleconference, entitled: “What can I do when psychotherapy doesn’t work?” It will be held on Thursday, October 25th. We’ll be discussing

If you prefer 1:1 counseling, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. Online therapy may also be available, depending on where you live.

Learn more about Empathy Dysfunction: If you haven’t grabbed your copy of my new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS,” I invite you to do so. It’s packed with real-life examples of empathy dysfunction and how you can strengthen your own empathy “muscle” to withstand the callousness in the world today.

How to Have Tough Conversations & Give Useful Feedback

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Learn why we have trouble with this type of conversation and discover 7 ways to ensure you always give fair, objective feedback when it’s needed.Don’t you love to receive praise and commendation? It feels so good. However, receiving, and even giving, criticism hurts. Even though feedback is supposed to makes us better at work and in life, we perceive it to be negative, because there’s a potential to hurt someone’s feelings or even destroy our relationship with them. That’s what makes these conversations so difficult.

Our unconscious biases contribute to this problem. They interfere with giving, and receiving, effective feedback. Your feelings about a person greatly impact how and what you say. For example, if you feel someone needs nurturing, you become gentler. If someone irritates you, you become blunter. Your biases may be influenced by so many things, like a person’s position, gender, financial status, familial relationship, or even looks.

If you want to give fair, objective feedback, first ask yourself, “Why am I giving this feedback?”

It’s helpful to identify what motivates you to give feedback. Are you lashing out and trying to settle a score? Or are you sincerely trying to help someone become a better person? Or does your motivation fit somewhere in between?

You can ensure you’re giving the most helpful feedback possible by remembering the 7 keys to giving thoughtful and objective feedback:

  1. Regularly give commendation, so criticism is easier to take, when it’s needed.

  2. Rather than focusing on personality flaws or differences, focus on actionable items that can be implemented immediately.

  3. Get all the facts. Before commenting, make sure you understand the whole situation.

  4. Be very specific about what’s wrong and what can be done to fix it.

  5. If you do have to give feedback on a personality trait, give specific examples of how the trait affected the task or situation at hand and how specific improvements can be made.

  6. Gather your courage to speak, by clearly defining your reasons for giving feedback. Holding back doesn’t benefit anyone.

  7. Bounce your criticism off of a trusted colleague first, but frame it as a conversation about professional development, not naming names or even hinting, so it doesn’t devolve into gossip.

A way to double check your feedback, to make sure it isn’t biased, is to ask yourself, “Would I give this feedback to anyone else in this situation?” When others see that you’re striving to be fair in your feedback, they’ll be more open to accepting it. And when you strive to see the intent of feedback given to you, it becomes easier to accept.

As a family business coach, I love helping families make it work at home and at work. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Is Your Brain Getting Enough Sleep for Its Full “Wash Cycle”?

Sunday, October 07, 2018

There’s a continual “wash cycle” going on inside your body…including your brain. What the brain needs to complete its wash cycle is plenty of restorative sleep.Your body is wonderful made to self-clean. You drink water, and it flushes out toxins. You breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. You eat healthful food, and the body extracts nutrients and uses the fiber to sweep out toxins. There’s a continual “wash cycle” going on inside your body…including your brain.

What the brain needs in order to complete its “wash cycle” is plenty of restorative sleep. According to researchers, your brain needs 7 hours of sleep each night to complete the “wash cycle.”

While studying mice and baboons, researchers discovered that, during sleep, brain cells shrink and make room for a dramatic flow of cerebrospinal fluid to flush through the brain, washing away harmful waste proteins that build up during waking hours.

And when the animals wake up, the brain cells enlarge again and the flow between cells slows to a trickle. "It's almost like opening and closing a faucet. It's that dramatic," said Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, professor of neurosurgery at the University of Rochester. She also added, "It's probably not possible for the brain to both clean itself and at the same time [be] aware of the surroundings and talk and move and so on."

Researchers have found that one of the wastes removed from the brain during sleep is beta amyloid, which forms sticky plaques associated with Alzheimer’s. While this hasn’t been observed in humans yet, it’s reasonable to conclude that a similar cleaning process occurs in us. If so, that would help explain a number of problems and illnesses related to sleep deprivation also. When you skimp on sleep, overall blood flow decreases in your brain, disrupting your ability to think, remember, and concentrate. All good reasons to get your sleep and clear out the waste!

High-quality sleep is essential for optimal health. I’ve discovered that Neuro Emotional Technique is very effective for clearing stress and tension that is keeping you awake at night. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. Online therapy is also available, if that works best for your busy schedule.

October is ADHD Awareness Month. How Much Do You Know About ADHD?

Thursday, October 04, 2018

How much do you know about ADHD?ADHD is a very real neurological disorder. You might assume that the child “bouncing off the walls” in the grocery aisle is doing so because his parents haven’t trained him properly. But before you jump to conclusions, consider that there could be a very real neurological disorder responsible for that behavior…ADHD. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 3% to 5% of children have ADHD, while other experts believe it could be more.

Researchers have discovered that ADHD is, in part, caused by the brain’s inability to release enough neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine. These are the chemicals that enable us to be attentive and in control. In their search for a cure, researchers continue to explore genetic and environmental causes for this neurological disorder.

Did you know there are three types of ADHD? They are…

  • Hyperactive and impulsive
  • Inattentive and disorganized
  • Combination of the above

Medication combined with behavioral therapy, emotional counseling, and practical support helps people with ADHD to control their impulsivity and hyperactivity. However, inattention can be a very persistent problem. Along with ADHD, people may experience anxiety disorders, learning disabilities, sleep disorders or depression.

If ADHD remains untreated, it affects a child’s social and academic life, which can cause life-long problems for them. It’s not something a child outgrows, without help. Undiagnosed and untreated adults will have troubled relationships, decreased work performance, and are at risk for substance abuse.

If treated, people with ADHD can lead rich, productive lives. There are many famous individuals who have accomplished a great deal, despite having ADHD. For example, Parenting Magazine reports that Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines, singer Justin Timberlake, actor Will Smith, swimmer Michael Phelps, and comedian Jim Carrey are a few of the famous people who have prospered, while dealing with ADHD.

Do you suspect a family member of having ADHD? The cycle of frustration and failure can be broken with proper treatment. Please, I urge you to seek help immediately.

Knowledge is power. So learn all you can about ADHD, even if you don’t personally know someone with it. The more you understand, the more supportive you can be. Families with ADHD need our help.

If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and suspect you’ve lived with undiagnosed ADHD, please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Learn more on my website: ADHD/ADD.

Do You Live in the ADHD or ASD Time Zone?

Monday, October 01, 2018

Woman holding a clock signifies Many people with ADHD or Aspergers have trouble managing their time because they have trouble being present in the moment. Throughout the world, our clocks run on different time zones. And we all seem to be battling the clock. There never seems to be enough time to get everything done. People with ADHD or Aspergers find this especially challenging, because they have trouble being present in the moment. The ADHD or ASD brain can’t anticipate and plan for the future. This typically shows up in two ways:

They have a short time horizon. They can’t “see” very far into the future, so they lack motivation to act and consequently ignore deadlines. They think that since the deadline isn’t today, they don’t have to get started. Then when the deadline arrives, they’re totally taken by surprise.

They engage in time discounting. The further into the future a reward or punishment is, the less important it is. For example, they start watching TV at 9 AM and keep doing it until mom gets home at 7 PM and is mad because the room isn’t clean.

The secret to dealing with ADHD Time or ASD Time is learning to manage behaviors and choices in the present moment while keeping long-term goals in mind. When your internal clock isn’t in sync with reality, you need to use external tools and strategies that engage all of your senses. Here are a few suggestions:

Sight: Use the moving hands of old-fashioned analog clock (not digital, it’s too distracting) to emphasize the passage of time. Challenge yourself by saying, “before the minute hand get to (insert the position), I’m going to have (the amount of work) done.”

Hearing: Use audible reminders such alarms or phone notifications to remind you of your present deadline.

Touch: Set up your work environment to eliminate distractions and force yourself to get started and stay on task. Doing five minutes worth of work can lead to the next five minutes and so on…

Smell and Taste
: When you accomplish your timed task, reward yourself with a small portion of something that you especially love – like a sip of coffee, a mint, or a bite of apple. Set out another small task and tell yourself you can have another sip/bite when you finish that.

Imagination: Create a movie in your head of the worst case scenario if you don’t get it done and how that will feel. Next, imagine yourself easily accomplishing the task. Don’t make it difficult or turn it into a self-fulfilling prophecy; the longer you procrastinate, the more difficult or impossible the project becomes.

Stop telling yourself these lies…

  • I have plenty of time. 
  • I can do it tomorrow. 
  • I don’t really have to do it now.
  • I work better under pressure.
  • It’s too hard. 
  • I have anxiety, I can’t do it.

While it’s important to identify emotions, such as anxiety, you can’t let those emotions become excuses. Instead, find appropriate solutions. What strategies work for you? I’d love to hear about them over on my Facebook page.

Recent Posts RSS