Decrease Back to School Stress

Beat Back to School Stress the Easy Way

“Back to school, back to school…” Adam Sandler iconized the phrase in “Billy Madison”. But what does “back to school” really mean for some couples, especially those couples with children? For some, this is a long awaited reprieve from the carefree days of summer when their children have copious amounts of free time and relaxed bedtimes. Other couples, those who may be returning to school for continuing education or those who are school employees, may find there’s far less free time for all the fun things in a relationship, like travel and leisure time together. Even those individuals without children or without a partner in the school systems have certainly noticed the increase in the traffic around rush hour as school zones take hold of the once school bus-less streets.

Decrease Back to School StressNo matter which side of the coin you find yourself on, chances are the arrival of a new school year is felt in your family. Those of you with teenagers may be struggling to understand why your teen finds it necessary to stay up into the wee hours of the morning, only to fight with you on an early wake up for the first day of school. Turns out, they’re wired that way: the National Sleep Foundation found that teens typically cannot fall asleep before 11 pm. Frustrations with teens, rushed mornings, and a readjustment to old or new routines can cause stress in relationships.

Many couples I work with look for ways to manage the stress of returning to school (either themselves or their children). Something I always recommend is to get on a schedule. Kids (not to mention adults too) thrive off of routines and having a stable routine can increase a child’s success, both academically and emotionally. Additionally, having a schedule helps keep you and your partner on track and can limit minor disagreements, like who’s going to pick up the kids after school or daycare and who’ll be responsible for dinner. Some couples say they find it impossible to set a schedule, someone is always forgetting or life is simply too chaotic to control. While it may be true, an extremely rigid schedule isn’t going to work for everyone, having some sort of routine even if it’s just waking up at the same time every day can do wonders for family functioning. A positive (notice I mention positive) routine can actually increase your happiness. And chances are if you’re feeling happier, this happiness will rub off on your family members too.

Families run into problems when there is no routine and in essence the lack of routine becomes routine for the family. Late nights lead to rushed mornings, which lead to feelings of frustration and maybe even a hurtful exchange between two or more family members. It may seem simple, but I encourage you and your family to find one routine to stick to this new school year, whether it’s waking up at the same time every day of the week, doing one thing together when the family first gets home or just before going to bed, or even a positive group text message during the day at lunch time. You might find that as the family stress of the school year melts away, so do some relationship stresses as well. Find something the whole family can do and stick with with it for at least two months, not worrying whether or not you complete the task everyday, but trying not to miss more than 2 days in a row.

Of course, if you find yourself and your partner still struggling to get your relationship and your family on a routine, I’m always here to help.

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Couples Corner Divorce or Mediation

Is Divorce the Only Option?

This week on The Couples Corner we had the pleasure to chat with Leisa Wintz, a family law attorney, about mediation as an option for couples who wish to divorce, and whether or not divorce is the only option. Leisa’s background is unique in that she holds a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and worked as a mediator prior to becoming an attorney. Although it’s never pleasant to reach the conclusion that a marriage has come to end, the terms on which a couple separates can make a world of difference. Leisa discusses what mediation is and questions to ask if mediation is something you’re considering as you separate from your spouse.

Couples Corner Divorce or MediationIt’s important to note that the information Leisa shares is specific to the state of Florida; however, you can gain some insight on mediation and if you have specific questions regarding your state we recommend you consult an attorney in your state.

Why mediation?

Leisa shares that divorce through mediation is a common question couples have for her, mostly because individuals may not want a judge to make decisions about the situation. There are times when mediation will be the best choice and also not the best choice for couples. We all have preconceived notions of what we think divorce looks like; if you’re curious about your options, most lawyers will offer a free phone consultation and if you don’t like the first attorney you speak with, hang up and call another. Your lawyer should be your partner in this process and having a like minded lawyer who is on the same page as you will be your best asset. Mediation will consist of a third party, neutral individual who will help negotiate the terms of the separation. As Leisa says, in all good compromises, you’ve got to give up a something and if one person walks out of mediation feeling like he/she got everything he/she wanted, something went wrong.

For some couples, they want the divorce to amicable. Additionally, mediation is required in the state of Florida if there are children involved and you can’t settle. While it’s not required that you reach an agreement in mediation, it is required that you attend.One thing Leisa points out is that the results of a mediation will depend one two things: your mediator, and how nice you (or your spouse) want to be in the process. Should you take a lawyer with you to mediation?

That all depends. It’s not always necessary to bring a lawyer with you to mediation but Leisa recommends knowing yourself and knowing how you respond in situations. If you’re the type of person who can live with a decision and move on, maybe you don’t need a lawyer. If you’d rather have a very clear understanding of the how assets are divided and know what you’re entitled to, it may be worth having a lawyer there. It’s also important to remember that while many couples may start off with good intentions, things can change as the divorce progresses and it’s important to be prepared.  If you are contemplating divorce there are many things to consider.  The emotional, legal and financial aspects of divorce can be difficult on all involved.  There is also the option of Collaborative Divorce which we share on another episode of The Couples Corner.  

Coral Springs Premarital Counseling

3 Reasons Why You Should Do Premarital Counseling

This episode of The Couples Corner, we had the opportunity to sit down with Michelle Scharlop, LMFT of Plantation Relationship Counseling and discuss the benefits of premarital counseling, including three tips for those thinking about getting married or anyone who is already engaged.

  1. Focus on the Relationship

Wedding planning can be a stressful time in a couple’s life. There is so much involved in wedding planning, from picking out the flowers, the wedding dress, the cake, the honeymoon, and all the myriad of other little details, that the focus of the relationship can get lost and be put on the back burner. In premarital counseling, couples can take the time to focus on their relationship and connect, since the goal of any wedding is to have a successful marriage.

Coral Springs Premarital Counseling

  1. Get on the Same Page

Although most couples may think they’re on the same page about important things before they get married, it’s important to really explore those deeper issues that can occur later in the marriage and cause problems. Everything from finances to children, religion, household chores, even the expectations we hold about married life is fuel for an impending fire if each person in the couple is unaware of what the other is thinking. How often marriage counselors hear, “I wish I had known that before we got married.” Premarital counseling can help prepare for the hurricane before the hurricane, discussing those rare life events couples may face like unemployment or a sudden financial crisis. Couples can avoid these difficult conversations when they are happening often making it worse because of fear due or  lack of communication skills, but in fact, Michelle’s final tip is…

  1. Be Proactive

One of the benefits of premarital counseling is that the counselor will help couples who may be struggling with effective communication develop those skills. The counselor will help couples discuss difficult areas when a disagreement in the relationship arises. While many people still view counseling a slightly stigmatized, counseling can be very similar to coaching, in that who doesn’t want to learn how to have a better relationship?

Allyson Tomchin

Allyson Tomchin – Co-Parenting for Divorced Parents

Allyson TomchinAllyson Tomchin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, and a Qualified Parenting Coordinator in the tri-county area of Miami, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. Her strength lies in developing relationships with an eye toward reaching a goal. The unique element that she brings to her work is a total focus on you and your success. She is driven in her efforts toward helping her clients reach their maximum potential. Allyson has a private practice in Hollywood and Boca Raton, Florida. She is an Adjunct Professor of Social Work at Florida Atlantic University and a contributor to South Florida Parenting Magazine. She is married, has four children, and a Yorkie named King Harry.

Tammy Berman

Tammy Berman – Second Saturdays: The Impact of Divorce – Financial, Emotional, and Legal

Tammy BermanTammy Berman is a licensed mental health counselor that has been in practice for over 13 years. She graduated with a Honors Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Western Ontario in Canada, moved to Florida in 2001, and completed a Masters of Science in Mental Health Counseling at Nova Southeastern University. She has worked with clients suffering from severe and persistent mental illness, addiction, depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues, self injurious behaviors, family issues, and difficulties with life transitions. Recently, Tammy has devoted her time to working with individuals and couples in strengthening their relationships and in transitioning through the divorce process. She recently became a Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, a Parenting Coordinator, and a Mental Health Facilitator of the Collaborative Process. She is committed to helping couples, individuals and families reduce the potentially damaging effects that a divorce can have on their well-being, family relationships, and quality of life. She currently practices in Plantation, Florida.

Check out our webisode with Tammy below and learn more about the impact of divorce on families.

Drs. Melissa Bridges and Paul Maione

Drs. Paul Maione and Melissa Bridges – Myths of Couples Counseling

Drs. Melissa Bridges and Paul MaioneDrs. Paul Maione and Melissa Bridges are licensed marriage and family therapists and co-founders of Couples on the Brink, a place where couples can get intensive help when they are in crisis and on the verge of splitting up. Over the last ten years they have helped hundreds of couples from around the country to repair, reconnect, and redefine their marriage or primary relationship. Their relationship changing intensive programs provide a viable option to traditional hourly counseling sessions for couples on the brink of splitting up.

Additionally, Drs. Maione & Bridges speak nationally and internationally at professional conferences in the field of marriage and family therapy and have appeared on numerous radio and television programs. Their work has been featured in several local news stories and they contribute as relationship consultants for CBS news here in South Florida.

Michelle Scharlop

Michelle Scharlop – The Benefits of Pre-Marital Counseling

Michelle ScharlopMichelle Scharlop is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice in Plantation, Florida. She has over a decade of experience in working with all types of relationships such as dating, premarital, married, parent/adult child and adult siblings. As a Relationship Expert she specializes in communication issues, conflict resolution, infidelity, infertility, blended families and life transitions. She is a clinical member of Amercian Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, an approved Premarital Provider  for Broward County and an Expert Therapist for, a website dedicated to topics relating to marriage.
Michelle is happily married to her best friend for over thirteen years and is the proud mother of an amazing son. She loves working with couples, writing her relationship blogs and traveling with her family. You can read Michelle’s original blogs on her website

Read Michelle’s reasons why you should do premarital counseling here and watch her clip below for more info!

Couples Counseling Coral Springs

Sophie Frabotta – Self Love

Sophie Frabotta Self LoveSophie Frabotta (Fra-boat-a) is a life coach, spiritual entrepreneur, and possibilitarian. She has her Master’s Degree in Transpersonal Psychology with a specialty in Spiritual Psychology and works with six aspects of human existence: Body, emotions, mind, expression, spirit, and heart. (BE MESH)

Sophie is the founder of Awaken Life Coaching and specializes in teaching tools and solutions that awaken consciousness, create a life of empowerment, and open the door to personal freedom. She is known for the gift of naturally understanding what is going on inside of people, and helping them redirect their inner thoughts and feelings towards truth, optimism, and possibility!

She helps people understand how their life makes sense, whether it is what they want to live or not, she gets them in authentic touch with how they are contributing to their life and then helps them create what they are truly seeking.

She became passionate about the journey of self-development after she had her own life transformation and healed from anxiety, bulimia, and depression all of which resulted in a seventy pound weight loss and complete life transformation! Most importantly, Sophie encourages us to create a joyful life by accepting our true self, falling in love with who we are, and living life with an open heart!

Watch Sophie’s episode here!

Mediation Leisa Wintz

Leisa Wintz – Mediation and Divorce Options

Mediation Leisa WintzLeisa Wintz received a Bachelor’s Degree from the College of Charleston in Psychology in 2000 and immediately took her first public interest job as a case manager for a family homeless shelter. It was here that she first had the opportunity to advocate for her clients and speak on their behalf. In 2003, she began law school at the University of Miami and interned during her 1st year at the 11th Circuit, Domestic Violence Division. During this time, she found that much of her work and that of the attorneys she worked with lacked client contact. Disappointed, she requested a leave of absence in order take a few months to explore other career alternatives. During this time, she discovered Marriage and Family Therapy and was fascinated by this new, holistic and systemic approach to helping families in crisis, so  entered into a master’s program.

After graduating with her Master’s Degree, she became the Director of Parenting and Juvenile Programs for a local forensic counseling agency. In this position she worked extensively within the family, dependency and domestic violence court systems as an expert witness, court appointed evaluator, and court appointed group and individual therapist. While working in this capacity, she returned to and completed law school.

Immediately upon completion of her law degree, she began running the Broward Teen Advocacy Project (BTAP) through Coast to Coast Legal Aid. While running BTAP, Leisa had the opportunity to represent and advise over 200 family law and domestic violence cases in Broward County. It was a crash course in legal advocacy and an invaluable training tool for litigating, negotiating, and resolving family legal disputes.

Leisa left BTAP in 2010 and immediately opened a private law firm where her practice is focused on family law and dependency. Much of her practice is also mediating working as a guardian ad litem in family cases. Leisa has enjoyed much success in private practice and attributes that success to providing clear client guidance, individualized services, client focus and an office staff who provides excellent customer service. Our practice has grown and diversified over the last several years. While she remains committed exclusively to managing the family law and dependency divisions, her business partner focuses on real estate and estate planning.

Check out our recap of Leisa’s episode of The Couples Corner on divorce and mediation options here and watch her episode below!


Couples Counseling Coral Springs

Nicole Gordon – Couples Cooking

Nicole Gordon Couples CornerNicole Gordon is a licensed marriage and family therapist, practicing in South Florida, both in-office and in clients’ homes. Nicole grew up in Miami, and has traveled many places internationally to learn about different cultures and history, particularly about many different culinary techniques and practices. In her spare time, Nicole can usually be found at the dog park with her Lhasa Apso or in the kitchen trying to make something new. With her passion for cooking and for helping people, she moves clients into the kitchen to utilize the way in which people orient to food and its preparation in therapeutic ways. Nicole has been in the mental health field for over ten years, received her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Nova Southeastern University, and is a PhD Candidate in the same program, focusing her dissertation, appropriately, on Cooking Therapy with Couples. Nicole has experience in treating a variety of issues includi ng grief, infidelity, divorce, autism, self esteem, depression, anxiety, and more.