July 2010 Newsletter

A Letter from Executive Director Dick Shoup

It has been a terrific year at The Counseling Center.  The number of people we have helped has grown by about 15%.  photoOur fund-raising efforts have all been successful, and the board has been hard at work developing a campaign to raise a new Fee Subsidy Fund over the next two years.  The year coming up will be the fortieth year of operation in the community, and we are very proud of the work we have done and the reputation we have maintained over forty years of service.  Thanks to everyone who has helped us, either by volunteering on the board and committees, or by contributing financially to our ability to subsidize fees so we do not have to turn anyone away because of lack of funds.

This issue of the newsletter is dedicated to one of our practice specialties at The Counseling Center: Couples Counseling.  Almost half of our work deals with couples and the issues they are having.  Over the last twenty years an entire specialty has sprung up around the need for special help in this area.  Three of the counselors on our staff are licensed couple therapists, members of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and supervisors in that group.   Other therapists on our staff also see couples.  So, we are well-qualified to handle the needs of the community in this regard.

Another new program in couples counseling that we are adding this year is a joint program with Iona College, which has one of the only training programs in couples therapy in the New York area.  Starting in the fall we have agreed to take one of their interns in the program and give that person some training and supervision working here with the center.  They will also be seeing clients at Iona and getting academic training and supervision there.  We feel it is important for us to play this role in forming some of the couples counselors of the future.  It also gives us the opportunity to be a teaching institution in the field.

In this issue you will find an article by Dr. Jim Walkup on our staff about couples work, and there is an article about Adult Attachment Relationships.  We have also included some pictures from our recent benefit, “A Night in New Orleans” at the home of Charles and Ellen Bryceland.  So enjoy this second edition of our e-newsletter and have a wonderful Summer!


Richard Shoup
Executive Director

Dr. Richard Shoup is a psychotherapist, consultant, and public speaker. In addition to directing The Counseling Center, he is a director of the Human Resources Consulting group where he helps many small corporations and non profits improve their team-building efforts and conflict resolution. Dr. Shoup is also a supervisor in The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT), and a clergyperson in The Presbyterian Church where he is responsible for evaluating candidates for the

A Stressful Marriage Can Be as Bad for the Heart as Regular Smoking

By Jim Walkup
A Stressful Marriage Can Be as Bad for the Heart as Regular Smoking

Generally, marriage lowers the risk of pneumonia, cancer, the need for surgery, and heart attacks. So overall, you might think that since you are married, you are naturally going to be more healthy than you would be if you were single. However, new research, reported in the NY Times, tells a different story.

Living in a stressful marriage can be as dangerous to your health as smoking regularly. In fact, a stressful marriage can lead to poorer health than if you were not married at all. In a study of over 300 hundred women, those who were experiencing the highest levels of stress were three times more vulnerable to a heart attack or to have the need for a by-pass surgery.

However, couples who touch each other during their conflicts or even use a caring term for the other like, “Honey,” showed less impact of stress. Those couples who knew how to make up after a fight faired much better.

Clearly the take-away from this new research indicates that marriage can be good for your health. However if you are in a marriage where conflicts are unresolved, you will not reap the benefit unless you and your partner learn how to lower the intensity of the hostility and name-calling and to develop rituals of making up and reconnecting.

Dr. Jim Walkup, D.Min. helps couples rebuild their relationships to last a lifetime and has served as a member of the staff for 38 years. Jim became the director of The Counseling Center soon after its beginning and held this position for 18 years. He is a Clinical Member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and a Diplomate in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. He is an ordained Presbyterian Minister.

Adult Attachment Relationships

The text of this brochure was written by Gail Palmer, MSW, and Alison Lee, PhD.
Adult Attachment Relationships
Adult intimate relationships can be understood through attachment theory, which has been researched and validated in a number of research studies over the last few decades.  John Bowlby, an English psychiatrist, observed as early as 1958 that human beings are biologically wired to seek and maintain a few intimate relationships.  He asserted that our need to connect begins at birth and continues throughout life, and as adults, we continue to need a special someone who will be emotionally accessible and responsive to us.  Most importantly, attachment theory helps us understand how to create a secure relationship, how a love relationship can become distressed, and what interventions can help a troubled partnership.

What Should I Know About Attachment Relationships?
Attachment relationships begin developing at birth and our early experiences as children shape our responses in current primary relationships.  Secure attachment results when caregivers respond to their children’s cues and the child develops an expectation that others will be there for them and that they are loved.  When there is unresponsiveness of an attachment figure over time, people develop different attachment strategies as a way to protect themselves in intimate relationships and can become either overly anxious or more distant and avoidant.

In an insecure attachment strategy, one can become overly preoccupied with the relationship or exhibit the opposite reaction of withdrawing or investing less of oneself in the relationship.  The first strategy is characterized by blaming or critical behaviors, whereas the second strategy is more likely to involve an unemotional or dismissive stance.  There is a third attachment strategy that some individuals-who have experienced either severe abuse or neglect as a child-can develop and that is to both seek contact with the significant other, but then reject the contact when it if offered.  Insecure attachment strategies, while useful in childhood relationships, may not be needed in the adult relationship,  but will work to define the current relationship as insecure.  A distressed relationship will also reinforce and maintain these strategies.  It is important to remember that these strategies can be modified and our experiences as adults can shape and change our sense of security in relationships.  An emotionally responsive and accessible partner can influence our sense of security and we can come to expect that we will have our emotional needs met and that we are worth loving.

When Should I Seek Help?
Adult attachment difficulties will become evident in primary intimate relationships.  The following are signs of relationship distress:

* Repeated negative interaction that creates distance and distrust in the relationship
* Diminished or nonexistent affection and/or sexual desire
* Feelings of loneliness or alienation in the relationship
* Betrayal or breach of trust in the relationship
* Addictive behaviors; for example drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling
* Lack of connection or intimacy in the relationship over long periods of time

Couples should consider therapy when the relationship has become unhappy or unfulfiling for one or both partners and the continuation of the relationship is threatened.  Couples therapy that has an attachment focus can address directly relationship problems and can provide a long lasting successful outcome.  Research studies of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) find that 70-75% of couples move from distress to recovery and approximately 90% show significant improvements.

What is Therapy Like?
There are various forms of couple and marital therapy available and couples can access help through consulting with a therapist specifically trained in couple and family interventions that are attachment based.

Typically, therapy involves weekly sessions for both partners over a series of, on average, 10-20 sessions.  Generally, the therapist helps the couple identify communication patterns that are contributing to distress and insecurity in the relationship.  When the couple begins to identify their patterns as their primary problem, and not each other, they can then begin to develop more positive ways of interacting with each other.  Couples are helped in creating a secure connection by learning to provide comfort, support, nurturance and care for one another.  The relationship then becomes a safe haven where partners can turn to one another for love and be both intimate and interdependent with each other.  The end goal of attachment-based couples therapy is to decrease the level of negative interaction and increase the emotional closeness and connection for the couple.

While it is known that insecure and secure attachment exists in all cultural, religious, and economic groups, and in both heterosexual and same-sex unions, the way these relationships are expressed will differ across these groups.  A therapist who is sensitive to these variances will be able to modify the treatment to fit the particular need of the couple.

Safe Haven Marriage, Building a Relationship You Want to Come Home to, by A. Hart and S. Hart-Morris, 2003. W. Publishing Group.

Love is Not Enough:  Keeping Your Love Alive, by J. Dragun, 2007. Canton Press.

Hold Me Tight:  Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, by S. Johnson (in press).  Little & Brown.

A Night in New Orleans Dazzles Bronxville

On a beautiful spring evening an enthusiastic crowd of friends and family turned out to salute E. Virgil Conway of Bronxville. Virgil Conway was The Counseling Center’s honoree at its 2010 spring benefit, “A Night in New Orleans” held on May 7th.

Virgil with Richard Pink, Board Chairperson

Virgil with Richard Pink, Board Chairperson

More than 125 people attended the Big Easy inspired evening hosted by Counseling Center Board Member, Ellen Bryceland and her husband, Chuck in the garden of their stunning Bronxville home. The Bourbon Street themed event featured live jazz music, delicious hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. Co-chairs of the benefit were Ellen Bryceland and Cindy Randall.

Virgil, who has lived in the Village with his wife, Elaine, for some 40 years, shared some humorous anecdotes about his own experience studying psychological theory while in college. He also trumpeted The Counseling Center’s services and noted that it was no coincidence that the program was located in the Reformed Church – a place where people go for spiritual healing.

One of the more touching moments of the evening was an introduction given by Conway’s granddaughter. She described how Conway, who has earned many distinctions in his long career, was looked upon by his family as a warm and caring grandfather. She also lovingly teased him about his preoccupation with the cleanliness of the family’s pool.

“A Night in New Orleans” was a success. Thanks to the generous support of so many, The Counseling Center raised more than $31,000 at its annual spring benefit.

Virgil with his wife and granddaughter

Virgil with his wife and granddaughter


New Orleans Jazz!

New Orleans Jazz!


Andrea, Ellen, Catherine and Dick

Andrea, Ellen, Catherine and Dick


Betsy and Lynn

Betsy and Lynn