TIME FOR THERAPY? SOME TIPS TO PICK THE RIGHT PROFESSIONAL FOR YOU

TIME FOR THERAPY? SOME TIPS TO PICK THE RIGHT PROFESSIONAL FOR YOU

We are in the middle of a pandemic that just wont go away. Job loss and economic instability is around every corner. Layer on top of that  the loss of structured activities, students trying to adjust to virtual learning and this new normal  has people of all ages and walks of life turning to professionals for support and help in navigating these difficult times. 

People are stressed, depressed and struggling. More often than I can count over the last several months I have gotten emails, calls and even been stopped on a walk with my dogs, being asked the same question:  How do I pick a therapist?  

I have a few suggestions.  

  • Interview a therapist as if you were interviewing them for a job.  How well do you connect? How do they do answering your questions? Can you envision that person doing the job?
  • Ask Doctors , friends and family for  referrals; word of mouth is a great starting point. Check your insurance company provider list and cross reference the names. if you are lucky enough to find someone in your network that is a bonus.
  • Know what kind of help you need and make sure you are a good match. Some mental health professionals  do more long-term psychotherapy while others do more short term goal oriented work.
  • Ask the therapist what experience and training  they have with  people  and situations similar to yours.
  • Ask about fees, availability of appointments, how they conduct their sessions- virtual and in person options.
  • The most important part of the process is the connection. Do you see yourself talking and trusting this person. Trust your gut.

Therapy can be incredibly helpful and empowering.  Take your time and find the professional that is right for you.

Julie Bulitt, LCSW-C is a licensed clinical social worker, having worked for more than 25 years with individuals, couples and families.  Her private practice focuses on family, couples and individual therapy, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Executive Functioning coaching.  She presently serves as the in-house therapist for The Discovery Channel in Silver Spring, Maryland.  Her new book, THE 5 CORE CONVERSATIONS FOR COUPLES, is co-authored with her husband, a Maryland divorce lawyer is now available from all booksellers in paperback and e-books.   

LIVING IN THE INSTAPOT

LIVING IN THE INSTAPOT

Ever heard of the Instapot? A fairly popular kitchen item, its  a high pressure cooker and can double as a slow cooker.

If you are like us, you and your significant other have been hunkered down under the same roof for more than three months now. Working together, sleeping together, eating all your meals together. If I go to the kitchen, he’s there.  Out on the deck, he’s there. In the bathroom?  Yep, there he is again.  I love my husband, I really do, but all this pandemic created togetherness is sometimes makes me feel like I am a chicken wing being pressure cooked in my kitchen Instapot.  

In my practice, I have observed this pressure cooker lock down lifestyle leading couples down divergent paths. On one side of the fence, some relationships have really thrived  and both individuals have appreciated the extra time together.  Those folks are enjoying each other, melded well and strengthened their connection. They spend time doing the traditional things they like to do together and in some cases exploring and learning about each other in different ways.  

I have been working with one couple that were together just a short time before the lock down began. In a move that their families unanimously thought was an enormous lapse in judgment,  the two decided to quarantine together.  To the surprise of the others, but not to themselves, the Instapot cooked things to perfection.  Getting to know each other quickly, in a small and contained environment, proved to be a fast path to love and a desire to make things permanent. With both of their apartment leases soon to expire, the two are house hunting for their first home together.  

For others, the Instapot has served up a fair share of discomfort and conflict.   Many couples have been forced to spend time together when they ordinarily do not. They have lost many of their other outlets and coping mechanisms and are pretty much going crazy from being in home all day with a partner that up to now they have found a way to co-exist or, in many cases, don’t like very much. Those are the folks who no doubt will be over done and ready to get out and separate as soon as the pandemic passes. 

From my vantage point as a mental health professional, this Instapot relationship experiment has been really interesting to observe.  For some, the heat has sped up or increased the positive while for others pressure cooker has burnt them to a crisp, speeding their relationship toward a breakup. 

I like to think that my relationship with David, solid before this mess began, will be even more so when it is over.  I still wish he would get out of my way now and again though.

Julie Bulitt, LCSW-C is a licensed clinical social worker and family therapist.  She and her husband, a divorce lawyer, have been married for more than 33 years. Their new book, THE 5 CORE CONVERSATIONS FOR COUPLES, is available online and in local bookstores. Follow David and Julie at www.thebulitts.com and on all social media platforms @thebulitts. 

COVID-19 AND SUMMER VISITATION

COVID-19 AND SUMMER VISITATION

With families of divorce, summer is often a time that kids spend significant amounts of time with non-primary custodial parents. Even in an ordinary summer, extended visits with that parent are often accompanied with anxiety and trepidation. Parents worry: Will her father make sure she does her summer school work?  His mother won’t give him his medications. He does not worry about Sarah’s allergies.  Where will they be staying?  I need to know!  The kids have their own concerns: Will I get to see my friends? I don’t like it there. Why do I have to go?   These are but a few of the many concerns those families lawyers like myself hear at the launch of summer vacation, year in and year out.

This year – 2020 – brings no ordinary summer.  All across the country, academic years were suspended, and then cut short.  Families from California to Florida were forced into some sort of “stay at home” order. Courts are closed throughout the nation.  The statistics regarding cases and deaths related to COVID-19 increase every day, even now, months into this pandemic. It is not surprising that divorced parents have disagreements and that many of those disagreements center around their children. As such, levels of anxiety have inherently increased as the summer of 2020 approaches.  

In many jurisdictions, courts have issued overall edicts that parties are to comply with existing orders regarding visitation, regardless of the COVID-19 outbreak. Like most “general orders”, those edicts are simply inappropriate and often just plain unfair for many children and their families.  Any number of potential situations comes to mind.  What happens where a child has been sick or even exposed to the virus?  Should she have to go to her mother’s house despite an existing order that provides mother with four weeks of summer visitation?   Dad lives in California and his son is supposed to be put on an airplane to fly there from his home in Maryland?  Should the child be put at risk by travelling through an airport and on the plane from one coast to the other just so Dad can exercise his visitation?  

I am reminded of a great quote that I heard some time ago from Jodi Picoult, a best selling fiction author: “The answer is that there is no good answer. So as parents, as doctors, as judges and as a society we fumble through and make decisions that allow us to sleep at night because morals are more important than ethics and love is more important than law.”     

That may or may not be helpful.  What I can say to parents is that the best thing you can do, when trying to balance health and safety with court orders and obligations is to find a family lawyer whose judgment you trust, give them a call and discuss your situation and get some advice. Do your best.  No one gave any of us lessons in how to handle the myriad of issues that have been presented to us when considering COVID-19 and its impact on summer visitation.

David Bulitt is a shareholder in the law firm of Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA, in suburban Maryland. A father of four, he focuses on all areas of family law. A published author, Bulitt’s most recent book, THE FIVE CORE CONVERSATIONS FOR COUPLES was published in February, 2020 and is co-authored with his wife, a family therapist.

AVOID THE MORNING DREAD

AVOID THE MORNING DREAD

I have had clients complain about mornings for as long as I can remember.  They don’t want to get up, don’t want to face the day. For younger adults, school is boring, maybe too difficult.  For older people already in the workplace, I hear the same complaints about their jobs. Folks would rather stay home, often isolated, and sometimes not even move out from under their blankets.

This is what I call “The Morning Dread.” It’s nothing new, no, but the phenomenon is becoming more prevalent as the quarantine and stay at home orders stretch from weeks to months.   So many of my clients  – kids, teens and adults alike – are describing similar feelings of just not wanting to get out of bed in the morning.

Why the malaise? The Morning Dread is a symptom of a lot of factors, including: 

  1. It’s the same thing day after day with little to no change and no new excitement.  Remember the movie Groundhog Day?  
  2. Our brains are not adequately stimulated.
  3. We struggle with how to make things happen, create activities; manage our kids, school and work. 
  4. The anxiety over not knowing when it will end.  When can we go out again and feel safe?  

Here are a few ideas for combating Morning Dread: 

  1. Create a morning routine. Routine is comforting to our bodies and minds.
  2. Put something nice in your morning- a good breakfast, a cup of your favorite coffee.
  3. Get up and exercise, meditate, take an early morning walk.  
  4. Limit your time on social media, bad news and negative energy.  
  5. Take a moment and affirmatively set a positive mindset for the day

Julie Bulitt, LCSW-C is a licensed clinical social worker, having worked for more than 25 years with individuals, couples and families.  Her private practice focuses on family, couples and individual therapy, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Executive Functioning coaching.  She presently serves as the in-house therapist for The Discovery Channel in Silver Spring, Maryland.  Her new book, THE 5 CORE CONVERSATIONS FOR COUPLES is co-authored with her husband, a Maryland divorce lawyer is now available from all booksellers in paperback and e-books.  

Do Your Best

Do Your Best

“At the end of the day, remind yourself that you did the best you could today, and that is good enough.”

– Lori Deschene

David found that quote and decided to save it. It is worth remembering, particularly now with all the stress that is spread across our town, our country, our world.  Just the other day, two of our daughters yelled at Julie, not because she did anything wrong, but was more the result of some pent up frustrations the girls were feeling.    To her credit, Julie did not engage with either one; she was quiet and let both situations pass. 

   If we believe the news reports and the likelihood of a lengthy home confinement, the stress is unlikely to pass any time soon.  How is each of us going to get through these weeks, or even months, without driving each other – and ourselves – crazy?  In her practice, Julie has observed a wide variety of coping mechanisms.  Some people worry, others drift into depression and inaction. There are folks who become obsessive, by over eating, drinking to excess or spending too much money on line.  We have friends who take stress on like an opponent in a boxing ring – head on.  They are the ones who who spring up, make projects for themselves, and do all hey can to keep busy and occupied.

Julie has been a grocery store repeat offender.  She has taken multiple trips for various foodstuffs that we don’t need – from Spaghetti O’s to frozen pizzas to cake icings.  Her thinking is that if the family has enough groceries, all will get better and be fine.  At this point, David won’t let her go to the grocery store without advance permission, a specific list of items to be purchased and an adult chaperone.  

Julie has also used the time to help others.  Just the other day, our grandsons were wrapping individual packages for seniors with crayoned drawings and rolls of toilet paper.   

David is back to writing more; Julie for her part is spending extra time in the kitchen.   Happy hours are both more frequent and extend a bit longer. We are both doing our best to eat healthy, walk and work out daily.  While Julie has spent a good bit of time video chatting with friends, David is instead talking to the dogs.  We are both trying to keep to normal “work-like” schedules and routines.  

Here are a few ideas to help you maintain your own sanity: 

–  Get regular and sufficient sleep  

–  Take vitamins

–  Binge watch some shows

–  Clean the garage, which for us has become a home gym of sorts

–  Help a neighbor with food or supplies 

–  Stay connected with family and friends via phone, face time or Skype.  Julie loves the House Party app that allows her to talk to several friends at once.

– Donate to those in need through online charities

– Support local businesses.  Order carryout from neighborhood restaurants, books from local bookstores

– Be aware of current developments, but don’t obsess with the news 

– Spend uninterrupted and quality time with your pets, your kids, and your partner

In other words, just do your best.

Julie and David Bulitt, a licensed clinical social worker and divorce lawyer, have been married for more than 33 years. Their new book, THE 5 CORE CONVERSATIONS FOR COUPLES, is available in paperback and e-book on line at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major booksellers and can also be purchased from your local independent bookstore.  Read more about Julie and David https://thebulitts.com/

Why Toilet Paper?

Why Toilet Paper?

The last couple weeks has been a difficult time for many. Even the healthiest of people are being told to change their lifestyles and we are being advised to “social distance” ourselves from others.  Personally, I fluctuate between being extremely stressed and fearful to feeling calm and believing that everything is going to be fine.

I stopped watching the news the other day, put on my sneakers, queued up a mediation app I have on my phone and made myself walk until I felt better. It took me two 15-minute mediation sessions and I was in a better place.

I spoke to a local nurse yesterday and she confided in me that she was “freaking out a bit.“ She has a ten year old daughter. I told her that I certainly understood where she was coming from and that it was okay to be scared, but that her little girl needed calm and strength from her.  

Here are a few suggestions as we all wade through this troubling time:  

  1. Talk to your kids, they know that something unusual is happening.
  2. Assure your kids that measures are being taken to keep people healthy, remind them of what they can do to contribute and help – wash hands, don’t share drinks with people, don’t pick their nose or suck their thumb.  
  3. Try to get the family outside- fresh air and sunshine are all good for your mental and physical health.
  4. Read, cook, do puzzles, watch movies and shows.
  5. Check-in on others, especially the elderly or immune compromised
  6. Stay connected with friends and family by phone or facetime

So why the run on toilet paper? Does everyone really think they will be running to the bathroom incessantly until this is all said and done?

Of course not, but here is the thing.  We are all a little afraid of what this Coronavirus is, we don’t know if we will get it, whether or when things will shut down and if we won’t be able to get what we want or need. The entire situation seems to be spiraling out of control.  For most of us, insecurity and anxiety increases as control decreases. One way to be in control is to stock up, to fill our pantries and closets.   Toilet paper is the perfect product. It doesn’t go bad.  We always need it and  – holy moly – what would happen if we ran out?

Lets all practice god hygiene.  Get sleep and exercise.  Do all you can to keep your body healthy And by all means, go grab up more toilet paper!  

Wishing you good health and calmness during this time.

Julie Bulitt is a licensed clinical social worker and family therapist.  She and her husband, a divorce lawyer, have been married for more than 33 years. Their new book, THE 5 CORE CONVERSATIONS FOR COUPLES, is available online and a local bookstores. Follow David and Julie at www.thebulitts.com and on all social media platforms @thebulitts.

RAISING DAUGHTERS

RAISING DAUGHTERS

At the gym today, an exasperated friend asked if my next book could be written about raising daughters. As I talked with my workout buddy, it became infinitely clear that she is in the midst of raising a hard-nosed daughter who is giving her a run for her money. Her daughter is only four years old. This is familiar territory for me. I didn’t say anything out loud, and instead kept what I knew to myself – things are only going to get tougher. I did tell her that being on the front lines of being a mom to four girls took patience, creativity, solid negotiation skills, and plenty of wine.

Having four daughters with very different personalities required David and me to “style” our parenting somewhat differently with each. Our first daughter was strong-willed, a bit bossy and demanding. At the same time, she had an excellent moral compass and pretty good self-esteem which allowed her to avoid a lot of the girl drama that is a daily part of the lives of many teenage girls. She needed clear boundaries and lots of choices.

We called our second girl an “easy crier.” She was respectful and obedient, easy to parent, and rarely needing too much in the way of discipline. Her feelings were hurt easily, however. Direction and suggestions were often met with an emotional and defensive response, and, as a result, we had to be careful watching not just what we said, but how we said it.

Our third girl, an anomaly if there ever was one, stretched all boundaries and presented us with daily challenges from a very young age. As a therapist who, in my view anyway, has some pretty good skills and a solid understanding of behavior, I really had no idea how to manage her. David, who spends his days often negotiating high conflict divorce matters, also found himself overwhelmed, frustrated, and at a loss.

Our youngest was an easy child to raise until she wasn’t. When things didn’t go her way, she could dig in like it was quicksand.

Looking back, here are a few thoughts for girl’s moms that might be useful:

  1. There is no manual.
  2. Girls can have intense emotions- expect ups and downs- that can come slow or fast.
  3. Don’t take anything personally.
  4. You are the safe person in your daughter’s world; keep in mind that what is directed at you most likely has nothing to do with you.
  5. Everybody wants control, even your daughter.
  6. Cede control and offer choices whenever possible. Even if it’s small things like when she might want to brush her teeth or eat dinner.
  7. Girls are often part of cliques, catty, and sometimes downright mean. Be firm, sure, but also hit your “P” (patience) button.
  8. Role model “nice” behavior; show what it’s like to be a good friend, building other girls up and not tearing them down.
  9. Don’t comment on your daughter’s weight. Even if she is too thin or heavy, she already knows. Keep good food choices around the house. Work with her to learn and enjoy a healthier diet. At the same time, though, try not to be over-controlling about it so much so that she responds by sneaking food or even developing an eating disorder.
  10. Take time for self-care and to nourish yourself. Being mindful of yourself, your own needs and pressures help to keep your own tank from emptying. At the same time, maybe your daughter will pick up on it, learn from it, and follow your lead when she is older with her own children.
  11. Adopt what psychologist Carol Dweck calls “the growth mindset.” Compliment her in specific real ways. In other words, don’t just tell her she’s pretty. Tell her something more valuable than that, i.e. that you like the way she treats her friends, or you recognized that what she had to do in a particular situation was difficult.
  12. Be kind, patient and forgiving with yourself. None of us are perfect parents.

Julie Bulitt is a licensed clinical social worker and family therapist. She and her husband, a divorce lawyer, have been married for more than 33 years. Their new book, THE 5 CORE CONVERSATIONS FOR COUPLES, is available online and local bookstores. Follow David and Julie at www.thebulitts.com and on all social media platforms @thebulitts.

#GIRLMOM #5CORECONVERSATIONS

BEHIND “THE 5 CORE CONVERSATIONS FOR COUPLES”

BEHIND “THE 5 CORE CONVERSATIONS FOR COUPLES”

How a family therapist and divorce lawyer turned more than thirty years of talk into a book.

Remember the story of Rumpelstiltskin? The girl locked in a tower forever unless she can spin straw into gold? Just when she is prepared to accept her fate, an odd little creature shows up, forces her to make a promise and does just that – he spins straw into gold.

      In putting together “The 5 Core Conversations for Couples”, no one was ever locked in a tower.  The analogy, however, is a good one.  Not surprisingly, Julie came up with it.

     “I can’t write for shit,” Julie says.  

     That may be a little bit of a stretch, but her spelling is, shall we say, not exactly inspiring.  My wife has never met a comma either, as far as I can tell.

     “I’m the ideas girl,” she says.  “I am the creative one.  I write the stuff down and send it to you.”

     And I, Mr. Rumpelstiltskin himself, try to turn it into gold.  Or something like that, anyway.

     I am sure that Julie and I are similar to other couples that have been together for decades.  We do talk a lot.  We talk in the morning when one of us is late for work, during an afternoon phone call or two, at dinner and over a cocktail before bed.  Anytime and all the time, it seems. 

     “I do wish you would stop the chatter when I am in the tub,” she says.

     Not likely.  I like to see her in the tub.

     It was a couple of summers back I think when we were on the beach and Julie was guiding me through one of her wacky advice metaphors that I first started making notes.

     “It was a teaching moment,” she says. 

     And, to be honest, she is entirely correct.  I laughed, she laughed and I asked her to remind me of some of the others that she had come up with over the years. We rehashed the Costco story, the wide load, fixing the roof and cleaning the garage, all conversations that made their way into our book.

     From there, Julie started sending me emails, more and more recollections of discussions we had before or, just as often, she planned to have once I read through them. Single spaced, no paragraphs, and no punctuation; the kind of emails that I usually don’t have the patience to read. But, boy, were they creative.  And in a quirky sort of way, a lot seemed to make sense to me.

     Those emails and talks got me thinking.  Sure, most everyone in a relationship talks and communicates. Those that don’t generally end up in an office communicating and talking to someone like me for five hundred or so dollars an hour.  But were these daily conversations between a divorce lawyer and family therapist in some way unique or different from those had by other couples?  

     Once I gathered all the notes, we sat down at the kitchen table and tried to make some sense of all of it. With Julie’s love of puzzles and my desire to write, the pieces started to fit together.  What we figured out was that the very same problems, frustrations and complaints that were expressed in Julie’s office were exactly the same as those that I heard in mine, but from a varied vantage point and with diverse goals in mind.  Julie’s clients complain about their spouses being lazy, not taking care of the children and not paying enough attention to them.  They express angst over money, and not connecting with their spouse or significant other.  They are often frustrated with an unfulfilling sex life.  

      And in my office?  You got it.  The very same bucket of bolts.

      Once we had that “aha” sort of moment, much of the rest came easily.  We figured out that there were five basic areas – cores, if you will – of communication that couples needed to cover in order to be successful and maintain a long and happy life together. Those five communication cores are the foundation of our book: building and filling a relationship, money, sex, parenting and maintaining balance.

     Julie and I are not social scientists. We did not set out to put together a study of human behavior, nor are we qualified to do so.  Since Julie and I are fairly open about a lot of what we have lived through and struggled with during our own marriage, we decided to bare a great deal in the book. Our struggles with spending, parenting a child with mental illness, adoption, infertility and arguments about sex – its all in there and set against the backdrop of what we have seen professionally in our offices. We tried to keep in mind that talking does not come all that naturally to everyone and, as a result, each section ends with a series of questions and topics  – we call them “couples kick-starters” – to get the conversation going.

     The take away from our 5 Core Conversations for Couples is this – we are not experts in the world of relationships.  We have, however, seen much of what causes relationships to fail and what couples can do together that increases the odds of their staying together.  Its really not all that complicated. Keep talking.

Julie and David Bulitt, a licensed clinical social worker and divorce lawyer, have been married for 33 years. Their new book, THE 5 CORE CONVERSATIONS FOR COUPLES, is available online and a local bookstores. Follow David and Julie at www.thebulitts.com and on all social media platforms @thebulitts.

LAUNCH WEEK COMING

LAUNCH WEEK COMING

The long awaited release of Julie and David Bulitt’s “THE 5 CORE CONVERSATIONS FOR COUPLES” is just around the corner.


In advance of the launch, the book remains available for pre-order on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/dp/1510746129), Barnes & Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-five-core-conversations-for-couples-david-bulitt/1135124008?ean=9781510746121#/) and all major on line book sellers both in the United States and abroad.


Please join Julie and David who are celebrating the launch with upcoming several events (all times ET):
FEBRUARY 3, 2020 @7:00pm – Julie and David’s interview on Blog Talk Radio.  Listen as it airs or on demand at https://www.blogtalkradio.com/big-blend-radio/2020/02/04/big-blend-radio-the-five-core-conversations-for-couples
FEBRUARY 4, 2020 – all pre orders are shipped and The 5 Core Conversations for Couples will be available on line and in your local bookstore
FEBRUARY 10, 2020 9:30am – Julie and David appear on Fox 5’s “Good Day DC”  
FEBRUARY 11, 2020 5:00pm – Julie and David appear on The MoCo Show (https://www.mocoshow.com/)
FEBRUARY 12, 2020 9:15am – Julie and David appear on ABC/WJLA’s “Good Morning Washington”
FEBRUARY 15, 2020 4:00-7:00 pm   – Official Book launch hosted by the Rockville, Maryland Barnes & Noble (https://stores.barnesandnoble.com/event/9780062108497-0 )


Stay in touch with Julie and David @thebulitts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more news, appearances and updates!