Loneliness can damage health, triggering inflammation and neurological changes

Washington Post

Loneliness can damage health, triggering inflammation and neurological changes

 December 18

Loneliness can tank your mood, but can it affect your health, too?

All signs point to yes.

It turns out that feeling lonely can do more than make you sad: It can predict the way your body will respond to and bounce back from various health challenges. Lonely people are more likely to get sick, and researchers want to know why.

Three of them recently spoke about the current state of loneliness research and how scientists are responding. You can listen to their discussion on Aspen Ideas to Go, the podcast of the Aspen Ideas Festival, or watch the discussion online.

The 40-minute conversation covers such topics as what loneliness seems to do in the body — including increased inflammation and neurological and genetic changes — and how health-care providers are reacting.

For years, researchers have linked loneliness to poor health. People who say that they’re lonely are more likely to have dementia and inflammation, and to die prematurely. And in research presented to the American Psychological Association this summer, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor at Brigham Young University who participated on the Aspen panel, posited that loneliness is a bigger public health risk than obesity.

Feeling lonely isn’t the only risk to your health; so is living alone and being socially isolated. The panelists discuss such things as how the design of public spaces might affect the number of people we encounter and whether there are gender differences in social support. They also explore whether social media makes us more or less connected — a question that may drive future research into loneliness.

Bottom line: There’s hope for people who feel lonely, but there’s a long way to go before scientists understand exactly how loneliness affects health and what to do about it. It’s a conversation worth having.

Impossible or Not

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” Muhammad Ali

I admit I am a huge boxing fan, also know as the “sweet science”. Of course I have mixed feelings about the brutality of the fight, but you will find it in baseball, football, basketball and of course hockey. When you are able to see past the physical and violent nature of the sport what you can see is amazing athletic ability.You see the sweet science of the sport. The term, sweet science, was coined by Pierce Egan who was a British journalist and sportswriter in the 1800’s. He wrote many articles on boxing and called it the “Sweet Science of Bruising”.

I personally had an interest in boxing but didn’t know very much about it. I was working out at the gym on day and saw a trainer working with someone on a heavy bag and doing a mitt workout. I thought I want to do that and this began a wonderful relationship with Robert Garrison teaching me the sweet science. I always had a lot of strength but as a kid I was always told not to use it. In my early workouts with Robert I would giggle, feel uncomfortable hitting the gloves and using the strength that I had. It was the day that my attitude switched. I realized that with Robert I could hit has hard as I wanted and I couldn’t hurt him, he would always be quicker and stronger than me.
When life feels impossible and we feel alone, reaching out for support is one of the hardest things to do. What I have learned from the world of sports is that it takes a team of support for people to be successful. Muhammad Ali had a support team, he trained with Angelo Dundee, had sparing partners and was in the gym working on and honing his craft. For me being a psychotherapist is helping to create or joining that team of support. It is in this partnership of psychotherapist and client that helps us learn about ourselves, the stumbling blocks we have come across and the views and beliefs we have about the world and ourselves. Knowing our feelings, wants and goals is what many of us have understood to be called self-esteem and we get this from experiences with other people and how they treat us, how they reflect their impressions of who they think we are and how we come to think of ourselves. I have personally and professionally found psychotherapy to be helpful in coming out of isolation and making changes. It is why I became a psychotherapist and I maintain a psychotherapy practice in Santa Cruz, CA.

Much of our self-understanding is built in childhood where we learned about ourselves from our parents, caretakers, school, society and often the messages we received about us were not positive or were more often about the other person and their struggles instead of reflections of who we are. Like the diagram below it shows how our view of the world impacts our perceptions, emotions, relationships and thoughts. I see my job as helping tease out what is my belief and experience from what has been told to me, it is not about blaming but accountability. I know reaching out to anyone, especially making that call to a therapist can be very frightening and it can also be the first step on a very rewarding journey. Taking risks is what brings us rewards in life.

Accepting Credit Cards

Are you accepting credit cards or planning on doing so. This has been several years of trial and error and just when I thought I had it all figured out I learned something new. Let me share with you what I have learned.

All the different ways to have a merchant account:

Virtual terminal (online) – this usually means the card is not present and you are manually keying in a credit card or you have a shopping cart or purchase button on your website.

Mobile (phone, iPad/tablet or computer) – the Square, most merchant accounts will offer you a swiping device or PayPal type of accounts.

Card reader (card reader machine, magnetic swipe and now chip) – where you swipe the card and you can also manually key in the purchase. cardreader

Telephone – with almost all of these you can call in a charge at usually a higher rate.

Merchant fees

The state of California does not let you pass off the merchant fees to the customer. What you are allowed to do is offer a discount for paying by cash or check.

The most common credit cards are Visa and MasterCard. American Express recently sent me a notice that they were changing their fees to be the same as the fees for Visa and MasterCard.

There are two fee structures:

  • The percentage rate you are charged for each transaction and a transaction fee.
  • The merchant fees you are charge
  • The flat fee programs like Square or PayPal

Costco is a good example:

On Site & In Store = 1.38%    .19 each transaction (card swiped)

Online = 1.99%                        .25 each transaction

On-the-Go = 1.38%                 .19 each transaction (card swiped)

The cheapest rates you will get are for when you have the card present and swipe it. Costco does seem to have the cheapest rates. You pay $5.00 fee for your monthly statement and if you have the card present and swipe it you can have 1.38% rate and .19 per transaction.

12/10/16 – Update
I have recently experienced using Stripe as a merchant account. It only allows for a shopping cart on your website or mobile device and the use of a plugin to create the shopping cart. Though it does seem to have the lowest of merchant charges. 2.9% + .30 per transaction, no monthly fees and no PCI charges. Stripe to me is a bit confusing and does need a web developer to set up. They are constantly coming up with new platforms that may eliminate the need for plugins but I would encourage you to look closer and what it offers. 

I prefer to have the ability to place a purchase button on my website for workshops or groups. This is a virtual account. What I have learned is that if you want to swipe cards you should get a merchant account for that, you will get the best rates and fee structure. Then if you wanted to do virtual you can still log in and run credit cards, you can also use a card swiper (but you will be charged at your virtual account rate) and you can place purchase buttons or a shopping cart on your website.

Sounds clear but it gets more complicated.

There are 4 types of cards for the most part:  (this is just an example)

  • Basic Credit Card = Qualified Card @ a rate of 1.99%
  • Rewards Card or Business Cards = mid qualified @ rate of 2.65%
  • Corporate cards = non qualified @ 2.89%
  • International Cards = I didn’t use this but I think the rate was over 3%

I understand why merchants often want to switch to square or PayPal where you are charged 2.75% as a flat fee.  Fact checking the rate I see that Square is going to offer a chip reader. This may be the best way to go. What I still need to find out is can you swipe or chip the card as well as do online purchase buttons.

So far with all of the companies I have spoken with you would need a merchant account to use a card reader machine and a second account if you wanted it to be virtual. I can swipe cards with my virtual account but I will not benefit from the lower rates I get when the card is present. It all has to do with risk, they prefer you have the card present and now use a chip reader, second is card present and magnetic swipe and last is not having the card present and either manually keying in the charge or having them online with a shopping cart or purchase button.

Having the ability to log in and make the charges when I want to has been useful to me. I have many clients that will pay me at the end of the month and I can log in when it is convenient for me to run the charges. I like to do all my billing at one time. The marketing rule of thumb has been that the easier you make it for someone to sign up and pay for a workshop or group you increase your registration by 8%. I know if print out a form and plan to send a check or credit card information I might procrastinate and then not do it at all. So accepting credit cards has been helpful in my practice. Learning about the right merchant account has been a nightmare. A final example of the nightmare. When I was speaking with the account person, asking them to go over my account, I learned the rate charged could change by how much information I put on the form. I had noticed with Costco all they wanted was the card information and zip code. With the current service I use I put in credit card info as well as name, full address and email if the person wants an email receipt. I had no idea this made a difference apparently to MasterCard, Visa and American Express it does.

I hope that my research has been helpful and if I can help in any way developing your practice or accepting credit cards please contact me at info@therapymarketingcoach.com

Licia Ginne




Couples Therapy

stk23562sisThe couple came in and sat at far ends of the couch and I wondered what would come next. Andrea was the first to speak and it was with angry and dismissive tones. They had found me through her therapist and she wanted to know already if I would reduce their fee. I knew the angry and dismissive tones were meant for me as well as her husband. She continued on with why they were there. She felt she was there because he refused to go to therapy and he was a deceitful loser. He had created business after business and they had failed. He had also invested more money than he had told her about. Peter remained quiet as she continued and he seemed a bit afraid to speak up. She kept telling me how better educated she was and she should be the one working but they had a child who needed her at home and she was suppose to be the stay at home mom. Yet she couldn’t relax her vigilant stance, she had caught him in lies about the business and where he was. She wanted him to come clean and start to act in a responsible manner.

Does this sound familiar? In my years of working with couples in private practice as well as in addiction treatment programs I found this similar theme of “They need to change”. I think the hardest part of couples work is often the discrepancy in the emotional growth or availability of each person in the relationship. I will often use the word compassion, how do you find it for yourself and for your mate. With compassion we can find the tolerance and understanding we need to form a collaborative working relationship. Though its not always easy to find. We have to wade through resentments, hurt, disappointments, expectations and lost dreams.  I believe it is an ongoing process we need to adapt since our relationships are always growing and changing. In my own relationships and working with couples I know that communication is a big part of finding that working team. Not just what we say but how we hear it. I have found success with letting people know how I need to be heard this moment.

Some suggestions of how to let the listener know how to listen:

  • I need you to help me problem solve.
  • I need you to let me vent and just be here.
  • I need you to comfort me as I tell you this story.
  • I need you to tell me it will all be ok.
  • I need you to understand my anger and support me.

I used to believe that if we could communicate all would be ok. I have learned through the years its a great place to start but is not always effective. I may need to find another friend or support to talk with because my partner is not able to listen. We all have times when we can’t hear or are frustrated by the topic. It’s important to let the other person know whether now is a good time or they can’t hear the topic. Is this about something of major importance or is this about an argument with a friend, if its about something that is dramatically altering your life I would hope that your partner can listen to you. If not then the problem needs more attention, like couples therapy then this simple exercise. The couple I describe above could not listen or find compassion and their relationship ended in divorce. Many couples that I have treated have been able to learn to listen, communicate and find compassion and rebuild their relationships.

Like any life change it takes work and curiosity.

Licia Ginne, MFT

Kaiser Permanente Continues to Neglect Mental Health


Kaiser’s administrative offices in Pleasanton, Calif., a 17.8-acre suburban campus that the HMO purchased from computer giant Oracle Corp. The conference rooms are all named after prisons.

It is amazing how Kaiser continues to neglect their mental health programs. For years they have neglected their programs and nobody seemed to care. Now the State has levied the heaviest fines it has every handed out and Kaiser still seems to look down their nose at their mental health programs. They refuse to staff their programs and provide the quality of care they should. Instead it is all about the profit and the executives seem more interested in their profits than in quality of care.


California again slams Kaiser for delays in mental health treatment


Zak Ebrahim How I chose Peace

This talk by Zak Ebrahim shows how one can change deeply held beliefs when they get challenged within relationships.Whether those relationships are watching Jon Stewart on the Daily Show or meeting people who are different and hold different beliefs in the real world.

As a psychotherapist I often hear “can anybody really change”. As I watch growth happen with those I work with and I see their faces soften as compassion and empathy for themselves and others start to challenge the self-criticism and fear of others, I am moved. It is hard to see it within ourselves and helps to have that mirrored back to us. We start to see the change in how we operate in the world and how our world changes.

Over time change does take place and we often don’t know it. As Zak Ebrahim says in his talk he had gotten to know a Jewish man before he knew he was Jewish and realized that his beliefs had been based upon the dogma that his father had preached. That maybe he wasn’t the same as his father, I am sure he can find traits of his father in himself but he doesn’t have to embrace the hate. But as he says in the end “I am not my Father”. Change is possible and his talk for me was deeply moving and powerful.

Technology Withdrawal and It’s Use in a Private Practice


First computer- Imagine trying to get this to sit on top of your desk.

It wasn’t until I was out of town, and the small town I was in had hit and miss WI-FI and cellular coverage that I went into technology withdrawal. I didn’t realize how much I relied upon these tools. I had planned on my vacation to make several business calls and to follow up on some projects but the irregularity of the service made the task frustrating and not worth it. I had experienced this before where I had gone on vacations and left all the technology behind this time I was not prepared and it woke me up to the limits of technology in how I practice and market my psychotherapy practice.

I am embarrassed to admit this but since I have left Los Angeles and now live in Santa Cruz, CA I am bit surprised at the amount of people who don’t use computers (compulsively). I think the surprise is more related to feeling of Silicon Valley being just over the hill.  I have been talking with a old high school buddy and her last computer crashed a while back and she is waiting to gather the funds to purchase a new one. I have been offering some advice and trying to help her out on how to purchase a computer.  But I am really not talking about the financial aspects I am talking about people who already have a computer but don’t use it very often.  My recent trip to Mendicino, CA also shed some light on what happens to me when my iphone and ipad can’t get access to anything! I started to go through technology withdrawal,  I missed having what we so fondly call the answer machine. Watching a movie ever wonder who that actor is or what other movies they were in, quick reach for the phone, ipad or computer and straight to www.IMDB.com for the answer. Last night I wasn’t sure if I could freeze roasted chili peppers another quick google to find the answer.

I am currently helping ICP the psychoanalytic institute I belong to strengthen their live streaming program. Now what this means is I helped to find a knowledgeable technician who could evaluate what we need and how to improve our sound quality. The institute offers many of its workshops to long distance participants over a program www. zoom.us, it is actually a very good program for an inexpensive price if you are looking to do live streaming You can use it free but for only 45 minutes at a time, great way to test it out. If you want more information about contemporary psychoanalysis and the programs they offer go to www.icpla.edu and on the events page you can join their email list and you will be notified of all the programs and most come with continuing education credits.  Working on this project always adds to my knowledge of computers and live streaming, Chris Killen has been helping us and he sent me over a short article on the first things to do when you open a computer, some great tips. I want to offer it to you here. http://lifehacker.com/the-important-things-you-should-do-when-you-get-a-new-c-1559946098

Also if you’d like to contact Chris for a consult here is his information:
Chris Killen
AMA Pro Racing/Fanschoice.tv

Now how does this all tie into psychotherapy. I promised I would keep you informed of my progress as I continue to grow my psychotherapy practice here in Santa Cruz, and finding technology is as helpful as I’d like. I’ve also known marketing is not one tool its the use of many tools. Like all my consulting clients I too complain there is never enough time to get it all done and patience is required.  Every city has its own rhythm and Santa Cruz has always danced to its own drummer.  So as I have done over the years is to find the middle ground where I feel comfortable. It’s what I teach those that I work with on practice development. You have to push the boundary of comfort for yourself and for me that boundary is I tend to get a bit shy in groups and its hard for me to introduce myself where I don’t know anyone. So I have signed up to speak at the Santa Cruz CAMFT Chapter on Friday, September 12, 2014 on the clinical aspects of working with all types of addictions. I have found the Santa Cruz Psychoanalytic and Psychotherapy Society and look forward to attending and meeting more people. Building a network is so important and slowly I begin to create the network that I need, for people to know my work and me to know theirs. The process is slow and takes a support team, when it gets disappointing it helps to have someone offer support to get you back out there. The biggest lesson I learned is to make sure you are in a supportive environment where you feel comfortable. Now its finding that network.

Licia Ginne, MFT
Individual, Couples and Group Psychotherapy
Private Practice Development
831) 471-8647