Category Archives: Contemporary Psychoanalysis

Does Avoiding Conflict Really Work?

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

Martin Luther King, Jr.


Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

Martin Luther King, Jr.


carlyungDoes avoiding conflict really work. I don’t like conflict, it makes me uncomfortable. I can nervous, sweaty and start to shake if I have to speak up about something uncomfortable. Though I have also found that people that try the hardest to avoid conflict are the ones that create the most. These are the people pleasers who have a hard time setting boundaries and letting you know what they really want. In relationships I find that feeling that your friend, partner, spouse or family is there for you to lean on and provide input is one of the most important elements to a successful relationship. You want to feel that those people closest to you are going to tell you the truth without harm or meanness. You know when you are trying to make a decision and you feel the other person is just trying to please and doesn’t take a stand, it doesn’t feel like you have a separate person with you, they have blended into you. We need to feel that people can be kind and have their own opinion and this is someone that you feel is separate from you that you can lean on and you feel that you can sink your weight on them and they won’t collapse. Those that try to avoid conflict seem to be the ones that you never know where you stand with. They don’t often tell you to your face what is going on, you might hear it by accident, you may never hear it or  it may come from someone else they complained to you about you. I am not saying that you should take on every fight or upset and that fighting is OK,  It is as Carl Jung says that what comes from conflict is growth. Learning how to resolve issues, fight fairly and state your thoughts and emotions is what brings intimacy. Whether it is in your personal relationships, work relationships or being in the world. It is important to stand up for yourself but just as important as to learn how and when to get the best results. Conflict resolution, learning to listen and communicate is what improves any relationship and not every fight can be won but when we feel that we have been heard than it is easier to find the compromise.
Licia Ginne, MFT

New Year, New Private Practice

psychoanalysisHappy New Year to everyone. It’s a New Year and soon it will be a new private practice. I gave myself a deadline of the new year before putting a lot of  focus on rebuilding a private practice. Here I am in a new town and realize how little I know about the world of psychotherapy in this area. I spent over 25 years building a private practice in Los Angeles and now need to start building here in Santa Cruz. I laugh to myself when I find a trail to follow and find out its not what I thought it was. Thinking I found a center of therapists that work from an attachment theory model only to find they are using the word literally to describe the service of helping people to make attachments in their world. So as with any business you need to find your market and need to know your resources. At least I have a community in Los Angeles that once practiced here or is practicing now, so I get leads and thoughts about the community. Every community is different in the same way that we as humans have different needs and wants. Forming relationships is about understanding the expectations, needs and wants of individuals. I may want to have a friendship with you where we meet weekly and it may turn out that you have more commitments than I do and can only offer me a monthly get together. It is up to me at that point to see if that works for me or how that fits in my world view. I might be disappointed but trying to get you to free up time and meet my needs won’t work in the long run nor is it fair to the other person. It’s the same with marketing my private practice I may want my practice to look a particular way but it doesn’t mean it will, I do have to understand the environment I am working in. It would be like living in the desert and wanting to grow orchids outside, they would not survive the desert environment. I can keep trying but the chances are high I will not succeed. Now if I want to build a greenhouse that regulates moisture and temperature, it increases my odds of successfully growing orchids. Yet this is a self contained environment and does not rely upon others. Growing a private practice I need to know the desires of the community and how they mesh with my ways of working.

From years of working and teaching marketing I do have a business and marketing plan from which I work. I remind myself it is a slow process and take one step at a time. I am now looking for office space to rent. So if anyone out there knows of any therapy space for rent I would be grateful for any referral. I also know that having a community is an important part of a private practice. I keep my community in Los Angeles and my membership in the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis helps me connect with other local members as well as have a support system as I make this transition. For anyone interested many of the CE programs offered by ICP are done live online so you can learn about contemporary psychoanalysis and gain continuing education units all in the privacy of your own home.  I also look to local groups for membership and involvement to build on my community here in Santa Cruz. These are the first steps of my journey and if I don’t declare them it’s easy to let them slip by and it has always been my plan to have a small private practice. Another commitment is to bring this blog back to life and focus time on writing on it. So I will keep you posted as my journey takes form.
Licia Ginne, MFT

Relationships Come with Disappointments

I have been seeing couples in therapy for over 25 years and it seems to me we all come to a relationship believing it will be like the ones we see on TV or in the movies. Usually the story line goes something like couple meet, maybe have some problems but then live happily ever after. As I write this I can think of other movies that show the exact opposite but often even those are over the top, what keeps coming to mind is Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn in the “The Break-up”. I know it sounds silly to base our relationships on tv or movies but we do. I always thought once you met someone, fell in love it would all be great. I didn’t think about how do we make decisions. I always ask couples how do you make decisions? This relationship is suppose to meet your needs. So I ask couples to independently start writing what is their ideal relationship or marriage. Then they can come back in and we can start to understand the expectations that everyone brings to any kind of relationship.
stk23562sisWhat is always most startling is I think most of go into a relationship with the idea that our ideas are universal. I think we often get surprised and how our partner can have a different world view. I believe that couples therapy is an opportunity for couples to share the views they have and to try to understand the history that went into not only their partners view but theirs as well. We may think we are fighting about who took out the trash or how much one does or doesn’t help around the house. We are really fighting about different understandings or our emotional reactions to uncertainty. The goal is about being able to understand our partner, to understand that maybe when they are angry they are scared and lash out. The goal is for each person to work to understand themselves and be able to express their real fear, anger or anxiety and not lash out. We will never resolve all problems but we can learn tolerance and understanding.

by Licia Ginne, LMFT 21421


twitter-birdI finally found a bit of time to work not only on my two twitter accounts, 1 for marketing (therapymarketer)  and the other for my private practice (LiciaGinneMFT) as well as a couple of other accounts I help with. I set about posting but also doing my annual cleaning up and reaching out. I prefer so far to do this on my own and not hire a service. So I started to follow one after another and forgot about the results I would get. So I have been inundated with return replies. Which I love and am fascinated by what I have found. I am wondering what all of you have to think about this. I find that people who use validation services I am not inclined to spend the time answering the questing so they get ignored. I would also love to hear why people find a validation service helpful, if you are posting on twitter than you have already made the decision to go public so why make it so hard for people. I have the same feeling about people who block their email accounts. I tend to ignore these accounts and feel like there are so many other ways of dealing with unwanted emails, delete them, get a good spam filter or if on a website use a form for contact instead of posting your email. The upside is that when I do this sporadic following or networking I find so much information and interesting people out there. I find that on Twitter I get to know the person a little bit better than something a bit more stagnant like LinkedIn. Their posts often add a bit of education but when you start reading a lot of their posts you start to understand what they are interested in, you start to see themes. If you have a website and marketing your private practice through it I would encourage you to use all the social media marketing tools that are out there. You never know where they can lead and what you can learn. Tonight looking at my email there was a twitter from Duane Law about Abram Hoffer, MD. early founder of orthomolecular psychiatry. Duane Law is doing some CEU events on the topic. It reminded me of the first psychiatric hospital I worked in during the late 1970′s and one of the psychiatrists was experimenting with this form of treatment on one of his schizophrenic patients. I can’t tell you how successful it was but I can tell you that we the staff loved taking the niacin and felt it helped us get through double and triple shifts. Working at the psych hospital was I gather working in any institution or prison, there are laws and ways of doing things what wouldn’t work in the outside world.  And all of this came from twitter sort of amazing.

by Licia Ginne, LMFT


I have been thinking further about expectations and how to put them into a context so we can better understand them. As a Santa Cruz psychotherapist I have been thinking about my own expectations and noticing those of others around me, friends and clients. Our world-view is established by so many different experiences, relationships and situations. We bring our world- view into all aspects of our life. If we have been treated as if we have no value then we expect this from work, family, relationships even the supermarket cashier. We go into these situations with preconceived notions that will often trigger the reaction we expect and then we often say, “see this always happens”. I see people who can become anxious about how they are perceived, which then can make them quiet, tense looking or maybe angry looking; others may perceive them as being better then, or having disdain, angry, or unapproachable. The person may experience the others pulling away from them adding to the belief that no one wants to be around me. This is a great place for an intervention an opportunity to talk yourself through the situation and see if maybe there are other possible explanations for the feelings you are having. Maybe an opportunity to understand the origin the belief and how it might have come from someone else and their history and not an accurate representation of who you are. It’s a chance to have a different experience in the same setting and begin to develop a voice that counters the negative voice inside you and may create expectations that cannot be met in that situation.

Through the attachment to our parents or caregivers and the other experiences we have growing up we gather these belief systems about us. I have found one of the goals of therapy is to learn about these belief systems and understand where they come from and how they influence my life and question if they are real. Someone who comes from a family where they have been neglected could believe that they have been neglected because there is something fundamentally wrong with them. This is where I start to see the role of expectations. I have based my life on these beliefs and I expect you will betray me, leave me, blame me, or whatever it is my belief tells me and I am inclined to hear things in this way when maybe they don’t mean that. We come in with expectations that are not always based in reality and sometimes it’s hard for us to see who the others in our lives really are. Especially in relationships; friendship or romantic, we have these ideas of how things should go that are not always available to us. We believe the person has it to give and is withholding it from us; we should try and be clearer maybe they don’t understand us. So many movies and TV shows will show life as a problem arises, there is a series of misunderstandings and then all gets worked out in the end and everyone is happy. I have found with couples that I work with that most of us come into a relationship (and I am not excluding myself) and we believe there is a right way to do things and if the other isn’t doing it that way they are wrong. Yet if you look at your family history you may start to see the clues of how you were taught how to handle certain things. In my family we always balanced the checkbook and when I became a bookkeeper during school I learned more about managing money, so when my friend never balances her checkbook I can think you are so wrong let me show you how. But unless she wants the help (and she didn’t) then it is none of my business. We all have ways of doing things and often we find ourselves in situations where people do them differently and we need to learn to be tolerant and respectful of other peoples’ ways.

Expectations are not something to be tossed they are something we need to check out. There are certain expectations that we have that are conventional norms or laws. I expect when I go out to drive my car that everyone will follow the rules of the road, but even with these expectations I can’t always be assured it will happen, so they teach defensive driving and you still can’t expect all to go well.


Working with couples expectations I am aware of how we have not been taught how to talk about these personal things It is rare when a couple will come in and say they have explored many of these concepts; how do you pay the bills, how do you manage money, what’s your vision for your life, our life or what are you looking for. I think we do in a general way but when it comes to being with someone long term there are so many things to consider. Couples learn so much about themselves when they start to think what would my perfect relationship look like. I encourage couples to look at their relationship as part business and part romance and that each aspect as to be worked at. It is not often a couple gets together and sits down and says OK this is what I am looking for. I tell couples here is you chance to design the relationship you would like but remember just because you ask for something doesn’t mean the other person is capable of giving it. You have to ask yourself is this request a deal breaker for the relationship or can I live without getting this particular thing from my relationship. What I have found is if you at least know you are not going to get something in particular at least you can stop waiting for it and being so angry. We may also find that what we thought we could tolerate we really can’t so we need to look again at expectations since they are ever changing and need to be revisited often.


We can’t live without them, but it helps when we can discuss them and makes them known.
They help define us and know what we are looking for.
Learning to differentiate from our own expectations and desires and those that come from our history increases the chances of successful relationships,
In any type of relationship stating our expectations gives us boundaries for our relationships, sets goals and defines our roles in the relationship.

Licia Ginne, LMFT 21421