Recently, researchers Nobert Schwartz and Spike W.S. Lee published a study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology that challenges some of our romantic myths about love, relationships, and marriage. Schwartz and Lee found in two separate experiments that how couples frame their relationship in terms of metaphor,  will influence their ability to work through conflicts as well as their judgments about the quality of their relationships.

One view, popular in our culture (especially in romantic movies) views partners as “two halves of a whole”  or “made for each other”.  In other words, the “unity” idea or the belief that people in love are destined to be together and that love should be conflict free.  The other view, also popular in our culture is that “love is a journey with ups and downs”.  Lee and Schwartz’ work found that couples who hold the belief that love is a journey with challenges are more likely to be happy with their relationships and see conflict as something that is positive and can be worked through.

Harville Hendrix, creator of Imago Relationship Therapy has spent decades teaching couples that “conflict is your relationship trying to grow.”  This new research supports the idea in Imago that conflict is natural and how we frame our ideas about love and conflict are key. Relationships are powerful opportunities to grow and heal, but most growth in life does not occur without getting out of our comfort zones.  And, the very differences that can be so frustrating in romantic relationships come from our powerful unconscious attraction to a partner that will motivate growth.  To learn more about Imago Relationship Therapy visit

Contact me at or call me at 706-425-8900 if you are interested in a exploring your relationship patterns and learning new skills individually or as a couple. Enjoy the journey!


You have graduated from high school, spent the summer making memories with family and friends, and now it’s time to start college.  You may experience mixed emotions given this new journey in your life.  You might be excited to have a new independence – living on your own, deciding when and what to eat, hanging out late with friends.  Perhaps, sharing a room with a complete stranger makes you a little nervous or maybe you are enthusiastic about having a new friend to study with or to join you for social events.  You may have concerns about your courses- will I like them?  Will they be too hard?  Will I meet the professor’s expectations?  All these emotional responses and thoughts are normal when adjusting to college.  It will take some time for you to acclimate to this new environment and to become comfortable with this new chapter in your life.  So don’t think that everything will fall into place the first day of school.  Here are a few tips to help you make a smooth college transition and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

  1. Get to know the campus.  Take a tour with an upper-class student.  Learn the buildings where you will have classes, meetings, and social events.  Becoming aware of your surroundings will make you feel more comfortable with the new environment.
  1. Give attention to food choices.  The endless amount of food at the dining halls and late night food runs makes it easy to develop unhealthy eating habits.  Be mindful of the foods you are eating and make food choices that you feel are best for you.
  1. Make time to move.  You may refer to this as exercise but moving your body can help you with managing stress, anxiety, and depression.  You don’t have to go to the gym in order to reap the benefits.  Simply walk to or around campus instead of riding the bus or driving your car, play an intramural sport, or enroll in a dance class.
  1. Get some zzzzz!  Late night studying or hanging out late may result in poor sleeping habits.  It’s important that you are getting proper sleep in order to be alert and productive.  Lack of sleep can impact your memory, mood, ability to learn and retain information, increase stress, and may result in injuries or long-term health issues.
  1. Ask for help.  Avoid waiting until mid-semester or the end of the semester to seek help with your academic work.  Take advantage of tutoring services, the writing center, study sessions, and professors’ office hours.  If you have a disability, register with the Disability Resource Center in order to arrange for accommodations.  Planning ahead can help you be successful in your classes.
  1. Have a healthy relationship with your roommate(s).  Having a roommate can be a big adjustment for all parties.   It is important for you and your roommate to meet and communicate expectations.  Develop an agreement about how you all will share your space.         
  1. Meet your professors.  You might think your professors are only interested in lecturing but faculty like to get to know their students as well.  Visit them during their office hours and introduce yourself.  If you have questions about the class, class preparation, or ideas discussed in class, talk with the professors about them.  Don’t wait until you need a recommendation letter to introduce yourself to your professors.  Meet with them now!
  1. Make new friends.  College is a time to meet new people and make great connections.  You will encounter people from different backgrounds and even from different parts of the world.  You may find it easy to make new friends or it may take time for you to establish relationships.  Regardless, take the opportunity to meet someone new.  You may just gain a lifelong friend.

With these tips in hand, you should be well on your way to having a successful first year of college.  If you find that you are having a difficult time with this transition, you are welcome to meet with me.  I have over 14 years of experience working with college students.  I’d be glad to help you on your new journey.  I can be reached at or 706-425-8900 ext. 704.


Have you ever felt stuck in your career? Perhaps, you know what you want to do but you’re unsure of how to get started. Career counseling can provide you with the steps you need to get unstuck or to pursue your dream career. Career counseling is a specialized area of counseling that focuses on assisting individuals with their career, work, and life planning. It is a process of discovering the career that may be best for you given your interests, skills, abilities, personality, values, and experiences. It also involves career preparation. Whether you need to learn job search strategies, how to put together a resume, cover letter, or prepare for an interview, career counseling can provide you with the steps you need to land your next career.

A career counselor is a professional who has the training and experience to effectively facilitate the career counseling process. She can assist you with exploring your career options while also helping you understand job requirements, responsibilities, and the type of training needed. A career counselor can teach you appropriate strategies for pursuing a career and help you develop a plan of action.

Career counseling services are not limited to helping you find a career but you can also discuss workplace issues. Perhaps, you may feel stressed at work or you want to advance in your career. A career counselor can assist you with these issues as well.

If you are interested in career counseling, schedule an appointment with career counselor, Marian Higgins. She can be reached at or 706-425-8900 ext. 704.



23 Jun 2014
June 23, 2014

Weight Loss Group



I am thrilled to announce the formation of a new WEIGHT LOSS group at Counseling Associates for Well-Being. I will be combining hypnosis to help you naturally crave healthy foods, mindfulness to savor and enjoy the treats you love, and self-compassion to end your negative self-talk and heal the hurt you’ve been trying to soothe with food.

Some of the group content is based on the book, “The Self-Compassion Diet,” by Jean Fain, a psychotherapist and teaching associate at Harvard Medical School. “Self-compassion is the missing ingredient in every diet and weight-loss plan. Most plans revolve around self-discipline, deprivation and neglect.”

Read more about the latest research regarding self-compassion and weight loss:

Let’s work together to end the self-berating and constant internal struggle surrounding food. Let’s begin to nourish our bodies with foods that make us feel great and learn to enjoy the treats we love without the guilt and shame.

This six-week group will be held on Wednesdays from 6:30pm – 8:00pm at Counseling Associates for Well-Being, beginning in July.

Please contact me, Susanna Rains Moriarty, to reserve your spot in our weight loss group. (706) 425-8900 ext 709. s.rains@ca4wellb susanna

We have a new Career counselor in Athens! We at Counseling  Associates for Well- Being are  very happy to welcome our newest associate this week. Marian Higgins, PhD., LPC  is joining us. She is an experienced Career Counselor who specializes in helping people with all things work related. This includes making choices about career paths, dealing with work stress, workplace diversity issues, work or career transitions, and  workplace relationship challenges. Dr. Higgins is an experienced speaker and educator as well. She presents on topics related to leadership, inclusion, and strategies for  college success . Check here for information about her speaking:!speaking/cv53

She can help if you are feeling stuck in your career and looking for direction. If you are struggling with a difficult job change, having problems with co-worker relationships, or managing things related to your work-life balance, consider seeing Marian.  These are all great reasons to see a great career counselor. She has a great deal of experience with helping young adults with navigating educational choices as well. We are thrilled to have her join us!

Please call her for all your work and career related needs at 706-425-8900

Marian Higgins

Marian Higgins, PhD., LPC, Career counselor

IMG_7112 - Version 2

The moment that judgment stops through acceptance of what it is,you are free of the mind.  You have made room for love, for joy, for peace.-Eckhart Tolle

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.– Lao Tzu

My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations. – Michael J. Fox

Acceptance is often a necessary process for creating change and reducing suffering.  It is a fundamental piece of several proven therapies.  Some include Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), developed by Marsha Linehan, PhD., Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy).

Acceptance is a simple concept, and at the same time is really difficult.  Marsha Linehan, creator of DBT, offers some ideas about acceptance.  First, she clarifies that acceptance does not mean approval or disapproval of what is being accepted.  It means acknowledging on purpose without a label of “good” or “bad”. She also offers that in order to accept, one must recognize his or her own willfulness or non-acceptance.  One way to recognize non-acceptance is to listen to your inner dialogue.  If you hear sarcasm or statements implying what should or ought to be different about someone else, a circumstance, or yourself, you are likely in a state of non-acceptance.   .

If you notice these non-acceptance thoughts, do so gently with curiosity and compassion.  In other words, accept your non-acceptance.  This will allow space to notice your thought and decide if you want to work toward change.

Another idea for find acceptance is recognizing this as a state of being and a process instead of a single skill that is achieved once.  Linehan suggests to radically accept something; you must practice turning the mind over and over.

Acceptance of one’s thoughts, emotions, circumstance, and other people seems like a lot of work, and it is.  However, it offers freedom from the suffering that comes with non-acceptance, making it worth the effort.

If you’d like to learn more about acceptance to reduce suffering and make space for change, please contact me.  I can be reached at 706-425-8900 ext .703 or











Life based on gratitude, optimism and meaning is presented in this video:

Under dire circumstances, Alice Herz Sommer kept her focus “where it is good”, knowing that both “bad and good” are simultaneously on-going, and yet consciously choosing to keep her focus toward the good; in that place, everything is a present. And when you see and hear her laugh, you know this is genuine.

From birth she was optimistic and she wanted to have fun ; almost like she’s received the optimist gene at birth and passed it on to her son as well!!

Her love of music seems to be an intrisic part of her life and her love for life. At the time of her life when she and her son were in concentration camps, music, in theses circumstances, was not an entertainment;  “music was a much bigger value: it gave people moral support… The music gave us undescribable beauty”, may be satisfying the need for Inspiration or Meaning, like Viktor Frankl proposes in his book “Man’s Search For Meaning”.

I so enjoy her simple determination and clarity about her focus in life. It appears that she has practiced theses for ever, and I cannot help but believe this comes from the way she was raised, from parents who mirrored her with joy. I’d love to get your feedback about how this touches you. And contact me if you feel inspired and want to explore this further, at:, or 706 425 8900, ext 705.




Summertime has always been a time for a change of pace.  Going on vacation, reading a few good books, spending time with grandparents and summer camps.  This summer, during the break of the normal routine, consider neurofeedback training as an option to change your brain and improve your life.

What can neurofeedback provide?  ŸIncreased focus and attention…… Ÿ Reduced stress and anxiety….. ŸBetter sleep….. ŸLetting go of destructive repetitive thoughts and actions….. ŸGaining a competitive edge in academics through peak performance training.

Studies have shown that students lose a portion of what they have learned over the summer school break.  Neurofeedback can keep the brain active, develop new patterns for learning and allow for improved brain functioning.  It’s the perfect time to train your brain and make it a summer of positive change!

Join Pamela Key for an information session on Neurofeedback on Tuesday, May 20th at 6:30 p.m. at Counseling Associates for Well-Being.   Let us know you will attend.  RSVP: or contact her for more information.



07 May 2014
May 7, 2014

Inner Critic


“It’s like a big stick that I hit myself with from the inside. Really, would I want anyone I love to do that to themselves? Certainly not! And, I’ve made a commitment to support my kids and myself in putting that stick down. For good.  The other day…the part of me that is Unconditional Love stood up, turned towards the Critic, and embraced it. In that moment of love and connection, the critic dissolved. Now I make it a practice to embrace the Critic, over and over again. I am learning that whatever has a hold on me, that which we most want to turn away from, is exactly what needs undivided, loving attention.” — Jennifer Mayfield

This quote is the opening of Dr. Laura Markham’s latest blog post, 5 Strategies to Tame the Inner Critic, on her website, Aha!

One of the features of our inner critic is that it can operate and send messages at the subconscious level.  It often runs on a continuous loop in the form of background noise in our minds, and can insidiously damage our psyches and self esteem.

A powerful (and easy and relaxing) way to address this inner critic is through hypnosis.  My wonderful hypnotherapy instructor, Barbara Locascio Aquilino shared with us a systematic way to use self-compassion to identify negative self-talk, observe how it affects mind, body, and spirit, heal the damage, and prevent future negativity.

If you would like to explore ways to address your inner critic, please contact me, Susanna Rains Moriarty, at 706-425-8900 ext 709 or


Have you ever shared something painful or frustrating with a friend or loved one to be met with a response of, “look on the bright side…” or “at least…(something not as bad)”?  Does that advice leave you feeling better or worse?

I recall a friend stating in a Facebook post that she felt sad and angry that her mother was not alive to celebrate her birthday.  She received many empathic comments, but she also received comments advising her to “focus on the good memories” and that her “mother wouldn’t want her to feel that way”.  I knew that the people commenting cared for her and were genuinely trying to help, but I couldn’t help but wonder if my friend felt shamed for her natural and appropriate feelings.

It made me wonder further about the people leaving the comments.  I am 100% certain that their intent was not to shame but rather to help her feel better.  While I certainly prefer to receive empathy when I share painful things, and I assume that my clients do as well, I wondered if there is a certain group of people who feel better when they are immediately advised of the bright side of their situation in reaction to their pain.

I decided to launch a very “scientific” research study by asking the following question on my personal Facebook page:  “When you share with someone close to you something that is painful or frustrating, do you like it when they respond with pointing out the ‘bright side’?”

Most people who commented reported that either listening, empathy, or validation of feelings (or a combination of these) is their preference.  Two people stated that it depended on the situation; sometimes they wanted someone to listen and sometimes they wanted a positive perspective.  Two other commenters reported that they were open to the “bright side” but only after adequate validation and consolation.

The response I did not receive was an unqualified, “Yes, the ‘bright side’ perspective makes me feel better.”  How fascinating, then, that the “bright side” response is so often the immediate reaction to people’s pain.  How to explain this discrepancy between what people offer and what people need?

This led me to think about the experience of the person with whom the pain is being shared.  On the cynical side, perhaps the person has learned (consciously or subconsciously) that this response is often successful in extinguishing further sharing of pain.  They may simply not want to engage in this type of conversation.  The “sharer” will then often change the topic, not because they feel better, but because they realize they aren’t being understood.

Another reason may be that the person holds a belief that positive thinking is the best medicine and is wanting to provide a curative dose.  According to my Facebook responders, this is not received as the panacea it is intended to be.  It is certainly easier to find the positive in someone else’s situation than our own, isn’t it?

It is possible that the problem being shared is perceived to be easier than issues the person is dealing with him or herself.  For someone experiencing difficulty themselves, they may simply not have the emotional resources to provide the empathy that the loved one needs at the time.

Maybe the person feels a great deal of empathy but has difficulty tolerating emotions, his or her own and others’.  Being empathic requires you to feel others’ emotions yourself.  Dr. Brené Brown explains the difference between empathy and sympathy in this brilliantly illustrated RSA Short – “The Power of Empathy”:

Pain and frustration are universal experiences that can facilitate powerful connection between people.  Sharing these feelings allows others the privilege of knowing a person at a deeper, more intimate level.  Genuine, empathic interaction allows people to feel heard, understood, and validated.  It is from that place of security that the healing begins.

If you are having difficulty feeling understood and connected with your loved ones, please contact me at 706-425-8900 ext 709 or via email at