mother and child

Have you ever been taken by surprise by how angry you become by an interaction with your child? Have you felt feelings of shame and regret by how harshly you spoke to him or her? Have you promised that you won’t get angry like that anymore only to find yourself lashing out at your child, yet again?

Shefali Tsabury, PhD explains in her book, “Out of Control,” the mechanism behind these flashes of anger. “Each time our subconscious agenda doesn’t get met, we enter the space of a hurt child. Because our hurt self wasn’t healed when we were children, if someone reawakens this hurt within us, we erupt. This is why our children can trigger such fury in us.”

Daniel Seigel, M.D., and Mary Hartzell, M.Ed., authors of “Parenting from the Inside Out,” discuss rearing children as a chance for parental development. “When parents don’t take responsibility for their own unfinished business, they miss an opportunity not only to become better parents but also to continue their own development. People who remain in the dark about the origins of their behaviors and intense emotional responses are unaware of their unresolved issues and the parental ambivalence they create.”

Dr. Tsabury explains in her book, “The Conscious Parent,” why we experience such intense emotions while parenting. “Through our children, we get orchestra seats to the complex theatrics of our immaturity, as they evoke powerful emotions in us that can cause us to feel as though we aren’t in control–with all the frustration, insecurity, and angst that accompanies this sensation. Of course, our children don’t “make” us feel this way. They merely awaken our unresolved emotional issues from our childhood. Nevertheless, because our children are vulnerable and mostly powerless, we feel free to blame them for our reactivity. Only by facing up to the fact that it isn’t our children who are the problem, but our own unconsciousness, can transformation come about.”

If you would like to address unresolved emotional issues, I would love the opportunity to work with you. Together, we will find ways to heal your childhood wounds. You will learn how to give compassion to yourself, your children, and your parents. Becoming a conscious parent will allow you to be the peaceful, loving, patient mother or father you have always dreamed of being.

Come on in. Let’s talk about it.             706-425-8900 ext. 709

Susanna Rains Moriarty

Susanna Rains Moriarty


Most parents are aware how important attachment is for our children and we may go to great lengths to ensure we develop secure bonds with our babies so that they grow up with a sense of security in the world.  We now know from current research with couples that secure attachment is also crucial to an adult’s well-being.  Dr. Sue Johnson, who was called the best couple therapist in the world by John Gottman, arguably our most prolific relationship researcher, has been studying how attachment affects our romantic relationships for decades.  In this video, she decribes how one partner’s sense of physical pain can be changed by secure support and is even visible on MRI : , and further that attachment bonds can be strengthened.

John Bowlby, a British psychiatrist, first made the psychological world understand the necessity of secure attachment with parent figures as vital for the well-being of children.  He and others noted some children’s “failure to thrive” in hospital and orphanage settings without consistent and loving caregivers.  Although we accept these more nurturing attitudes today toward children and none of us would leave a little one alone in a hospital overnight to tough out such a stressful situation, we often overlook the healthy aspects of interdependence in our adult relationships.  Our culture is one of rugged independence, self-sufficiency and fears about losing our individuality. These are valid concerns as we want to maintain our voices, boundaries, and our identities in relationship, however we may sometimes overcorrect and not allow ourselves the vulnerability and openness that healthy intimacy require. Bowlby coined the phrase “effective dependence” to describe secure adult bonds which allow us to reach for others when we need help and support. Dr. Sue Johnson and others working on Adult Attachment research are validating this healthy dependence is as vital for adults as it is for children.

I recently had the opportunity to complete a 4 day externship in Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy.  For years I have read Dr. Johnson’s books and was excited to learn more.  I am certified as an Imago Couples Therapist and value my training and years of experience, but I am always interested in learning more about the enigma that is modern romantic love and committed relationship. I find the newest brain and attachment research to be fascinating as it confirms what Couple therapists have seen for years about the value of a secure bond.  We are healthier, happier and more successful when our most significant relationships are nurturing and work well.

What does a secure adult relationship look like?  Dr. Johnson has an acronym to describe the goal we are aiming for:  A.R.E.  Accessibility asks can I reach for you, Responsiveness asks can I rely on you to respond to me when I need you emotionally, and Engagement asks will you stay close to me and value me?  Essentially, a securely attached adult relationship is one of emotional responsiveness and safety, one where partners meet each other halfway and honor each other’s needs.

Luckily, there is a lot we can learn as an adult about our own attachment style individually and with our partners. We can look at our attachment history, our interactive dances and patterns, and our emotions that are triggered when we are in conflict and feel our relationship security is threatened.  Conscious partners can be part of each other’s healing of earlier attachment wounds, our present emotional safety and ultimately our overall well-being.  And when we feel we are solidly on that path, that is when Love makes sense.

If you would like to learn more about your own relationship patterns individually or as a couple and work toward improving them, please contact me at 706-425-8900 or email me at


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Our ancestors spent a great deal of time worrying, and for good reason. Other cave neighbors might try to steal their food…or their shelter…or their mate. Other animals might try to make them lunch. To protect themselves from these threats, our ancestors’ brains were frequently dialed in to the “fight-or-flight” response—a very primitive and very essential function of our brains that is designed to keep us safe.

We still regularly access this fight-or-flight response, but the threats in modern life are waaaay different than what our ancestors faced. Sure, there’s still the potential for danger, but more often than not, our anger is triggered by the day to day, non life-threatening stressors of modern life: annoying co-workers, being stuck in traffic, disagreements with our loved ones, money troubles, etc…the list goes on and on.

And here’s the problem. Although our anger is designed to protect us, in these situations, it’s actually endangering us, because staying mired in the threat response of anger robs us of joy, makes us more susceptible to stress and chronic illness, and causes our relationships to suffer. In short, anger can deprive us from being our true, best selves.

The True Strength program, originally created by Dr. Russell Kolts, utilizes Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) to teach new ways of coping with problematic expressions of anger. CFT blends centuries-old meditative practices (mindfulness) with evolutionary psychology and modern neuroscience in ways that are easy to understand and extremely useful. Through this course, you will cultivate a deeper sense of compassion for yourself and others, replace aggression with assertiveness, and improve your relationships.

TRUE STRENGTH: A CFT Program for Taking Responsibility of Your Anger

Six Week Course Starting Wednesday May 18.

Session Times: 6:00PM – 7:30PM

This group does not accept insurance

Fees are $45/group or pay a one time fee of $240 and save $30

Call Robert at (706) 425-8900 ext 706

Robert Lomax

Robert Lomax, LCSW is the newest associate to join Counseling Associates for Well-Being.  Robert brings a wealth of experience and talents, and welcomes the opportunity to assist clients with a variety of issues.  His areas of specialization include depression, anxiety, grief and loss, anger management, trauma, life transitions, gender identity and sexual orientation, and communication.  We are thrilled to welcome Robert!  To find out more about Robert’s unique approach as a therapist, read more here

Contact Robert at (706) 425-8900 or send him an email at


Premarital counseling can offer couples the insight they need to prepare for marriage.  It is designed to provide marriage education while also helping couples to develop the skills needed for a successful marriage.  Participating in premarital counseling does not mean something is wrong with your relationship.  In fact, it means that you are ready to establish a solid foundation for your marriage and want to prevent future problems from occurring in your marriage.

Some Benefits to Premarital Counseling include:

  • Increasing commitment to your relationship and marriage
  • Developing and enhancing your communication skills as a couple
  • Learning effective techniques for handling conflict
  • Reducing your risk for divorce
  • Giving more attention to a healthy marriage

As a counselor, I utilize the Prepare Enrich couples counseling program.   Prepare Enrich offers a customized online couples’ assessment that identifies a couple’s strength and growth areas.  It is one of the most widely used programs for premarital counseling and premarital education.  Over 3 million couples have completed this program.  It is also used for marriage counseling, marriage enrichment, and dating couples considering engagement.  Based on a couple’s assessment results, we will schedule 6-8 feedback sessions in which I will use various exercises to help couples discuss and understand their results as they are taught proven relationship skills.

The major goals of the PREPARE/ENRICH program is to help couples:

  • Explore strength and growth areas
  • Strengthen communication skills
  • Identify and manage major stressors
  • Resolve conflict using the Ten Step Model
  • Develop a more balanced relationship
  • Explore family of origin issues
  • Discuss financial planning and budgeting
  • Establish personal, couple and family goals
  • Understand and appreciate personality differences

Couples who sign-up for premarital counseling will receive 2 Prepare/Enrich workbooks, 2 copies of customized comprehensive couple reports, and a certificate of completion.  The certificate of completion can be used to save on your marriage license in Georgia.  Other states may offer this incentive as well.

To schedule your initial session or to inquire about rates and packages, contact Marian Higgins, Ph.D., or 706-425-8900 ext. 704.

15 Dec 2014
December 15, 2014

New Career Workshop

Education, News, Programs



Beginning January 10, 2015- February 28, 2015

8 weekly sessions, Saturdays, 10AM-11:30AM

Are you thinking about a new career?  Feeling stuck in your current job?  Unsure of what type of career will be a fit for you?  Join us for an 8 week faith based workshop that will help you find your calling as it relates to your career.  As a participant, you will have an opportunity to take the Strong Interest Inventory and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessments.  Together, we will develop an action plan for pursuing a rewarding career.

Benefits of Participating

  • Identify your interests, personality, skills, values, and how they relate to discovering your calling and career;
  • Address the barriers keeping you from pursuing your calling;
  • Learn effective strategies for securing the right career for you;
  • Develop a vision for moving into a new career in the new year;
  • Build relationships with people who desire similar outcomes as you;
  • Explore how to live your faith more fully during this process;
  • Experience the life for which God created you.

Facilitated By: Dr. Marian Higgins, Career Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor

Investment: $360 per person includes book, assessments, and interpretations

To Register: Contact Marian Higgins, or 706-425-8900 ext. 704.  The workshop is limited to 8 participants.  Registration deadline is January 7th.

Location: Counseling Associates for Wellbeing, 1 Huntington Rd., Suite 703, Athens, GA

Special offer display

In honor of National Career Development month, I’m offering a special on my career packages.  Get 20% off a package from November 24, 2014-December 1, 2014. These packages make great gifts for high school students, recent or soon-to-be college graduates, or for professionals looking for career advancement or career change.  To take advantage of this special, contact me at or 706-425-8900.

Career Assessment Package$450 $360

This package is designed to help you gain awareness of how your personality, skills, values, and interests play a role in choosing a career, and to explore these aspects of you for use in career planning. This package includes 4 sessions and the completion of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Strong Interest Inventory.

Interview Coaching Package$350$280

Need help getting ready for your next big interview? Interview coaching will help you feel confident about your ability to communicate effectively during an interview. During three sessions, you will learn how to make a lasting impression with your interviewer. We will discuss appropriate attire, the importance of researching the company/institution, responding to interview questions, asking appropriate questions, and how to follow-up. You will receive honest feedback on how to improve your chances of getting the job you want or on getting into the college of your choice. This package also includes a critique of resume and cover letter.

Package for Recent Graduates$550 $440

(For high school, college, and graduate/professional school recent graduates)

Still not sure what you want to do now that you have graduated? Meet with me to explore your future plans. Package includes initial intake, assessment of your interests, skills, personality, and values, identifying your educational and career options, and developing an action plan for achieving your career goal. This package includes 5 sessions, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, the Strong Interest Inventory assessment, a skills and values assessment.


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Carol S. Dweck of Stanford University has identified mindset as a determining factor in success in her studies of motivation.  Specifically, she has identified that a growth mindset leads to success as opposed to a fixed mindset that often leads to wasted potential.  A fixed mindset believes that talent and intelligence are fixed traits within a person that lead to success or failure, while a growth mindset attributes success to hard work and effort.  You can imagine that failure or difficulties really challenge a person with a fixed mindset, especially if they see themselves as needing to be perfect.  One in that instance is always looking for evidence (or absence of evidence) of the existence of positive traits and failure really creates a situation that is worst case scenario.  However, if one is focused on growth and efforts as key, one might have more curiosity and creativity to offer to a situation and less hopelessness and helplessness.

This is important news for parents in terms of the praise we offer our children.  Research is mounting that praising children as “smart” does not lead to success in school.  It actually can lead to a lack of effort being applied when learning and work is challenging.  When challenges come, even very intelligent children with a fixed mindset will avoid or not make efforts because they believe if they are smart, then they should know the information already or the work should come easy.  Children that have been praised for efforts, on the other hand, tend to stick with challenging work because this work does not test their view of themselves as smart. It simply means they are having to make efforts in order to learn and succeed and that is okay.  It does not say anything negative about their abilities. Check out this video that illustrates the concept with children:

We can see this same dynamic play out in our view on romantic love.  I recently posted about the Unity versus the Journey view of love and how that determines whether we judge our relationships as positive or negative:  I see this as a congruent finding that builds on the idea that, if we are to be successful in life and in relationships, we need a perspective that allows for growth and learning. A less fixed mindset allows for the possibility that challenges, problems, and failures are part of the path and do not signal doom or something inherently flawed in the person or the relationship.  Challenges are a given and curiosity, creativity, open-mindedness as well as effort are required to navigate academics, career choices, or love relationships in a way that feels positive and is sustainable for the long haul.  If you are interested in exploring your mindset and how it affects your parenting, relationships or how you see your world, give me a call at 706-425-8900 or email me at


29 Oct 2014
October 29, 2014

The Platinum Rule


As a child you probably learned The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  It is a simple rule that helps children gain a perspective outside of themselves.  The limitation to this rule, however, is the assumption that all people want the same things.  More helpful to relationships is The Platinum Rule: Treat others the way THEY want to be treated.

The Golden Rule falls short when what we need isn’t exactly what others would need if they were in the same situation. I once worked with a client whose wife took a variety of medications each day. By his own report, he nagged her every day, reminding her and checking to see if she had taken her doses. She finally told him, “Please don’t say another word about my medication.” “But what if you forget?” my client asked. “Then I forget. I would rather not take my medication than be hounded by you all of the time,” his wife explained. He looked at me incredulously as he recounted this story. “What, am I just not supposed to care?!”

From my client’s perspective, he was simply expressing his love for his wife. It was his way of caring about and for her. He had difficulty separating the feeling of caring for her from the action of reminding and nagging her. He believed that if the roles were reversed, he would feel very loved and cared for if his wife helped him remember to take his medication. He had applied The Golden Rule. His wife, on the other hand, would have much preferred The Platinum Rule: Treat others the way THEY want to be treated. Her illness had already compromised some of her independence. To be constantly nagged and reminded made her feel even more like a child.

The challenge of The Platinum Rule is to be willing to listen empathically to your loved one’s needs. If you are finding yourself having difficulty communicating your needs to your loved ones, or, are confused as to why your “help” isn’t being graciously received, please give me a call or send me an email. Let’s talk about it.

Susanna Rains Moriarty, LPC, CRC

706-425-8900 ext 709





07 Oct 2014
October 7, 2014

Spiritual Apathy



Recently, I read an article about spiritual apathy. It was written by Abbot Christopher Jamison and was adapted from his book, Finding Happiness. Jamison made some thought provoking points about the disconnect between our actions and our motivations about our actions. He describes apathy as the eighth deadly sin. The following is his description of spiritual apathy.

“The Seven Deadly sins, pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony and lust are derived from the Eight Thoughts of the monk John Cassian. Pope Gregory the Great in the sixth century removed one vice , acedia, a Greek word which can be translated as spiritual apathy. When this word disappeared from ordinary people’s vocabulary, it deprived Western culture of the ability to name and important feature of the spiritual life, namely, loss of enthusiasm for the spiritual life itself.”

“The purpose of such lists, like the seven deadly sins or eight thoughts is to provide a framework within which people can develop self-awareness. Self-awareness is different from introspection. Introspection is only looking at me, whereas self-awareness involves considering how I act with the world around me. Self-awareness is paying attention to how I relate with people and things. It involves understanding how one’s outlook affects the way one sees the world and how it affects the world itself.”

The conclusion drawn here is that a lack of self-awareness leads to apathy, which is simply not caring. When we do not consider the condition of our core, or our soul, we become complacent and careless. When our words and actions match our belief system, we exhibit care for those around us in significant and life changing ways.

One of my favorite quotes is from Maya Angelo. “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

This is so very true about both good and bad feelings. I can remember being in a store once, trying to exchange an item and a clerk being rude to me. In fact, she looked past me in line and asked if she could help the woman behind me. I felt angry and small. I will remember that for a while.

On the other hand, I remember while babysitting as a teenager, breaking a silver pitcher that belonged to the family. I was so afraid the mother of the children would be angry at me. When I told her what happened, she said, “I am not angry, I love you so much more than this pitcher.” This happened when I was 16. I will never forget that I felt loved and valued.

Paying attention to how our actions affect others is a way to guard ourselves from spiritual apathy. Spiritual carelessness is a way to produce reckless behaviors towards others. Spiritual exercises keep us self-aware and compassionate. Apathy is a sign that something deep within needs attention. Spiritual disciplines can lead to a more fulfilling life.