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Relationship Friday

Each Friday, we are answering questions about relationships! See this week’s entry and response below:

Writer: I am interested in having my question about relationships answered. How does one not let a spouse with wildly fluctuating moods not effect their own life? If my spouse decides to shift moods it can drain all my energy in an instant, thus leaving me angry and frustrated along with a sense of resentment and hostility towards him

Lexi Heinzer M.A. IMF#100931: It sounds like you are a person who gains your own energy from other’s energy- thus making it even more difficult to not allow your spouse’s mood to negatively affect you. Just as your spouse does not control your mood, you do not control his but you both influence them. Think of it as a cycle:



It is true that moods are contagious! As you can see from the cycle above, it is apparent that your emotional reaction from your husband’s bad mood is to mimic it. This is a normal response for all humans! When a person becomes grumpy, emotionally distant, or irritable it is natural to take this personally and internalize it. The best thing to do is strategize what you want your response to be. Do you want to be emotionally vulnerable with your spouse and tell him that deep down, it is hurtful because it may feel like an attack towards you? Would you feel more comfortable telling your partner that his bad moods make you emotionally distant? Or, would it feel best to let your partner know that when his bad moods come up you will leave the room until his mood has subsided (maybe giving him a word or body cue that you are leaving due to wanting to break the cycle).


The truth is, moodiness is a sign of emotional instability. You do not control this, and you are not to blame for it. Once you can start believing this for yourself, you will be able to separate your emotions and react in a way that will appropriately break the negative cycle. Your energy is not worth being drained and your day is not worth being ruined. You have the power to change how you respond, which gives you back your energy when you remind yourself “His bad mood is not because of me and I am not to blame. I do not want my day to be ruined. Although I am bothered that he is in a bad mood, I have the power and control to choose how I will respond to this because I care about myself and believe that I deserve a good day. Although I do not control his mood, my response may influence it in a positive manner.”

Send us in your question, and see it get anonymously answered next week!

Thoughts? Comment us below!

Thomas Fire

Thomas Fire.


When you look at the these words, what are the first things that come to do your mind?


Fear, sadness, devastation, disbelief, somberness, loss of words, disconnect, sleep disturbance, community, family distress, financial strains, powerless, inconsistency, change to routine.


If any of those came to your mind, please understand that these are typical responses to traumas such as natural disasters. Many traumas that occur are pressured to remain secrets which forces individuals to try to get through it on their own but The Thomas Fire didn’t just affect one person or one family, it affected an entire community. Depending on the lens you choose to adapt, this could be a good or bad thing. Bad: Thousands of people were displaced and traumatized. Good: Thousands of people can now relate to one another and connect on a deeper level. Social support is a resilience factor that will limit psychological distress after a natural disaster occurs. Pushing yourself to engage with your community, interacting with your friends, visiting with family, sharing fire stories with others, attending therapy, etc. These activities will be some one of the most crucial things that you can do for your mental well being in recovery.


Families, each individual that makes up your family is going to have different symptoms in the upcoming weeks/months. Children may become more aggressive, worrisome, clingy, anxious, withdrawn, develop sleep problems, begin bedwetting, etc. Also, it is important to remember that sometimes not having any symptoms is a symptom.


What can you do to help your children? Children need safety and protection in order to properly develop and individuate. Safety can look many different ways. Providing your child with a consistent schedule, praising small achievements, providing the space to allow your child to talk about the fire, being transparent with your child, and developing future safety plans are just some things you can do to help your child get through this difficult time. Remember, negative feelings are expected after a trauma but these negative feelings should not adversely impact different domains of your child’s life. This means, if you child begins losing interest in sports/activities, can not function properly due to lack of sleep, begins making suicidal/self harm statements, or anything else that makes you believe your child is not grieving appropriately then consider taking your child to a therapist.


Couples, in dealing with a sporadic traumatic event, the human brain is designed to to protect itself in an individualistic manner. This means that human instinct is to get oneself out of harm’s way. Although this is how our brains function, it doesn’t mean that this is what we actually do. The Thomas Fire was a disaster that likely had negative effects on interpersonal relationships when it first occurred.


Why? Typically events that impact relationships are predictable and foreseeable which allows the couple to use their thoughts and feelings to guide their behaviors. For example: if a couple is having financial difficulties, this is something that they can see occuring. They can examine their money spending habits, tell one another their thoughts, and reel in on their emotions in order to execute a plan on how to get through this situation. With The Thomas Fire, there was not any time to work through a rational plan with one another. The actions that occurred after the fire were instinctual.

Although the short term effects of a natural disaster typically lead to more conflict within the relationship, this isn’t true for long term effects. When dealt with appropriately, a couple can strengthen their bond which leads to healthier relationship practices (bringing more happiness!) Practice being open and vulnerable with your partner about your feelings. This is going to lead to your partner being your primary source of comfort which will directly correlate to more intimacy, strengthened trust, deeper admiration, solving problems as a team, and creating shared meaning. Try to etch out a time each day that involves you and your partner embracing one another. Push yourself to engage in mutual interest hobbies with your significant other. Be aware of the different ways that this disaster can be affecting your partner, be attuned, and practice being non judgemental. If you notice that your relationship is having exacaberated issues, don’t be afraid to go to therapy. Therapy is a process that allows you to have undivided time from a neutral person who can recognize and point out unhealthy relationship patterns, while also praising and encouraging in the most authentic way.


The Thomas Fire is coming to and end (my deepest gratitude to all the brave firefighters and first responders) but this does not mean that your feelings of loss and grief will be. Give yourself time and acceptance, and remember you have an entire community that is in this together. Please call or email VCC if you would like to set up a free 30 minute consultation. We are here for you and would love the opportunity to help you through this incredibly painful time.


Who am I? My name is Lexi Heinzer. I am a Marriage Family Therapist Associate under supervision from Marilyn Owen. I have a deep interest and passion to help families and couples through temporary roadblocks to help them reach their full potential. I recognize that many interpersonal relationship difficulties occur because of patterns. I want to help you break these patterns and together learn new skills and techniques to guide you. Relationships are ubiquitous, so why not have the healthiest relationships possible in order to be the healthiest you possible. Please email or call me with any questions or comments that you may have.

Our Supporters

We are grateful for the support we have received:

Google awards VCC with special services, including free Google advertising, through their Google for Nonprofits program.

Organic Themes gifted VCC with a website theme that is designed for nonprofit organizations.

Ventura College invited VCC to their Diversity in Culture Week!

At our inception, VCC was awarded a private grant of $3,000.

VCC has also received donations from donors like you. Thank you!

Seeking Psychotherapy When You Have Social Phobia

Someone with social phobia has developed an intense fear of social situations and interactions. With such a fear, an individual can become incredibly self-conscious and strongly aware that they’re being judged and criticized by others.

The feelings that come with social phobia can result in weariness with the public, anxiety with gatherings, as well as an overall depression since many individuals with social phobia tend to want to be alone to avoid social interaction. In fact, when faced with a choice of going out or staying in, preferring to be alone is a major symptom of social phobia.

Social anxiety disorder, or social phobia, has been discovered to be the third largest psychological disorder in the United States. However, studies have found that this disorder also includes specific fears, such as speaking in front of groups.

Symptoms of Generalized Social Anxiety or Social Phobia

 Those with generalized social phobia tend to become extremely and sometimes irrationally distressed when under certain social situations such as when:

  • being introduced to others
  • being at the center of attention
  • being teased
  • meeting strangers
  • going to parties or other social events

Physiological symptoms can include an erratic heart rate, blushing, a dry throat or mouth, trembling, difficulty swallowing, muscle spasms, and excessive sweating. The most obvious symptom, however, is anxiety or panic.

Seeking Psychotherapy

How does someone with social phobia strike up the nerve to speak with a therapist? They would have to find a therapist they feel comfortable with, a professional who can help them feel at ease the moment they walk into the room. Helping a person feel comfortable includes listening closely, exhibiting a warm acceptance, and responding with understanding and support.

In fact, in therapy a person with social phobia can experience what it’s like to be accepted, heard, and understood by another. They can experience what it’s like to have a therapeutic relationship with another human being. These are very different than the experiences that someone with social phobia is fearing when in public – rejection, shame, embarrassment, humiliation. Therapeutic experiences can help a person feel more confident in social situations. Of course, a therapist can also provide coping tools, relaxation techniques, and tips for watching and replacing negative thoughts, which can trigger anxiety.

There are a handful of modalities that a therapist may use with someone with social phobia, depending upon a person’s needs and circumstances. These include cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, depth psychological techniques, group therapy, and more.

Like speaking with a therapist one-on-one, group therapy can also be helpful. This therapeutic technique is facilitated by a therapist and is attended by many people who have a similar condition – in this case, social phobia. Group therapy can be incredibly supportive because other attendees may share their anecdotes of social distress,  success stories, and suggestions for overcoming their symptoms. For instance, one common tip for those with social anxiety is to surround yourself with people that you are comfortable with, including family, friends, and those who are like-minded. Feeling more and more at ease with others can slowly help one overcome their social anxiety and phobias.



Written by Marie Miguel

Marie Miguel is an avid internet researcher. She is fueled by her determination to answer the many questions she hasn’t been able to find the answer to anywhere else. When she finds these answers she likes to spread the knowledge to others who are seeking help. She is always looking for outlets to share her information, therefore she occasionally has her content published on different websites and blogs.


Depth Psychology

Depth psychology is a perspective, or a way of seeing. It is an approach to seeing the world in a broad, inclusive way taking into account more than what can be experienced by the five senses. Academically, depth psychology could be defined as the study of the unconscious mind. However, depth psychology is defined by much more than just psychology. Because deeper parts of the mind tend to speak in the language of images, depth psychology includes art, mythology, story, archetypal patterns, symbols, and philosophy. With this in mind, depth psychology works holistically with an individual to support their growth and healing.


Recent Events

VCC at Ventura College

On April 12, 2017 VCC had the great pleasure of bringing depth psychology to Ventura College students. Two VCC staff led the students in an experiential exercise, provided two short films to watch on depth psychology, and introduced Ventura Community College to the student body. Thank you Ventura College for having VCC join your Diversity in Culture Week!


How Couples Counseling Can Help

Often, people find themselves in unhealthy patterns in their intimate relationships. On the one hand, these patterns can be challenging and debilitating to the relationship. And on the other hand, they are the very opportunity to help a relationship grow and become more loving.

How to Relieve Chronic Anxiety

You could say that most people experience some level of anxiety, whether it’s stress or pressure or tension or worry. However, if your anxiety is constant or intense then it could be debilitating. You may need relief just to function in your day. You may need some relief in order to feel like yourself again. Or you might simply want to be more emotionally available to your children and spouse.

When a person can no longer function in their daily life, then treatment for anxiety may be necessary. Anxiety that is persistent or gets in the way of living may require psychotherapy as well as possible medication. If anxiety is getting in the way of your responsibilities, having healthy relationships, or being able to sleep, you may need to get professional help.

What is Major Depressive Disorder?

Major Depressive Disorder is a psychological illness that can create symptoms of enduring sadness and a general loss of interest in life. At times, those symptoms can feel overwhelming, leading to suicidal thoughts, ideas about harming oneself, or substance use. Typically, symptoms include of Major Depressive Disorder include:

  • loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • persistent low mood
  • low self-esteem
  • high self-criticism
  • extreme pessimism
  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • slow thinking
  • distorted thinking
  • high self-consciousness
  • irritability
  • challenges in personal relationships
  • insomnia and/or hypersomnia
  • weight loss or gain
  • difficulty coping with stress
  • guilt (feeling bad about something you did)
  • shame (feeling bad about who you are)
  • suicidal thoughts
  • poor concentration
  • poor memory
  • indecision
  • isolation from others
  • apathy
  • hopelessness

A combination of these symptoms can cause someone to begin to isolate from others as well as experience suicidal thoughts. However, as anyone can imagine, this can be dangerous. For those who do not get treatment for Major Depressive Disorder, for some, the illness can ultimately lead to taking one’s own life.