Codependent Relationships

Codependent Relationships

By Marilyn Wells


If you are in a relationship that feels one sided, consistently emotionally draining, or one that you constantly feel responsible for your loved one’s actions, you may be in a codependent relationship. A codependent relationship is characterized as a dysfunctional relationship where one person is responsible for maintaining the other’s needs, but counterintuitively enabling that person to continue their irresponsible behaviors.  Codependent relationships can occur in intimate relationships as well as non-intimate relationships.  The term “codependent” was originally used to describe family members of alcoholics.

Some Symptoms of a Codependent Relationship include:

  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Caretaking
  • Lack of personal boundaries between the couple
  • Having a hard time saying “no” to your loved one
  • Need to control the “irresponsible” individual
  • Ineffective Communication
  • Dependency on others to avoid feeling lonely
  • Denial of Codependency
  • Trust Issues in Intimate Relationships

These symptoms are actually deeply imbedded habits in codependents. Codependents’ actions are meant to help their loved ones but are often counterintuitive and come at the emotional price of the codependent. However, with the right support system, codependents can learn to abandon these habits and how to maintain a healthy relationship.

If you or anyone you know is or may be in a codependent relationship, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Please contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment, or visit for more information.



Breakups: High School Sweetheart not so Sweet

By: Emily Mulhaul

To all of the silent sufferers out there who feel as though they are being dramatic for grieving a loss of a relationship for over a year now, you are not alone and you are not dramatic. Breakups can take an emotional toll on us that sometimes prolong for a year or more. Often times, our past experiences shape our present situation, meaning the termination of one relationship may affect our future relationships. Not only may it shape our present relationships with others, but it shapes relationships with oneself as well. Breakups may deprive us of the self confidence and hope we once had because it seemed to have vanished alongside the memory of the relationship.

Whether your break up is affecting your relationship with others or your relationship with yourself, experienced psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling are here to help. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.


Emotional Abuse: The 10 Common Signs


When a person is being emotionally abused in a relationship, it is not always easy to tell. In some ways emotional abuse can be more devastating than physical abuse due to the victims’ tendency to blame him or herself. In an emotionally abusive relationship, the abuser systematically controls their partner by undermining their confidence, worthiness, growth, trust, or emotions by provoking feelings of fear, shame, or humiliation. There are 10 primary signs that distinguish an emotionally abusive relationship which are as follows:

  1. You feel as if you are walking on eggshells around your partner
    • You never know how your partner will react, so you have to be careful with anything you do or say
  2. Arguments tend to escalate quickly and have no end point
  3. There are intense moments of feeling good about the relationship, when your partner makes overly sincere apologies or attempts to make up for bad behavior.
    • The victim clings to hope for the relationship when these moments occur
  4. Your partner will let his/her anger out at you for something that is no fault of yours
  5. Your partner is possessive and jealous, and will speak badly about your friends—especially the ones who are of the opposite sex
    • Your partner tries to isolate you from friends and family.
  6. Your partner cripples your self-esteem through humiliation about anything you try to do or accomplish
  7. Your partner has a two-faced personality
    • Your partner’s personality confuses you by alternating between acting very caring and loving, and/or very hurtful and mean.
  8. Your partner emotionally manipulates you into sexual activities that you do not like.
  9. Your partner will bring up past mistakes as a reminder of all that you have done wrong in the relationship
  10. Your achievements are minimized, while his/her achievements are glorified

If you believe that you or a loved one is in an emotionally abusive relationship, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment.

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By: Margalit I. Herzfeld



Valentine’s Day Depression

By: Chana Kaufman

As we enter February we are constantly reminded of Valentine’s Day’s imminent arrival, from heart-shaped chocolates and doughnuts in stores to commercials on TV advertising gift ideas, love is definitely in the air! Valentine’s Day is a day dedicated to celebrate that special someone you love in your life, however, what happens when there is nobody you can call “special” on your own? Being single on Valentine’s Day is tough, especially when the entire world seems to be happy and pronouncing their love, while one has nothing to celebrate. This can lead to feelings of loneliness, isolation, sadness and even self-doubt.

In his post on this topic, Dr. Marcus Mottley quotes Dr. Laura S. Brown, professor of psychology at Argosy University/Seattle on how to handle depression and other emotional health issues during the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day:

  1. Do not define yourself by your relationship status. Your relationship status is not your identity.
  2. If you are single because of a recent loss, allow this to be a day of grieving. Do not pretend that it’s not a hard day. Get support and sympathy.
  3. Realize that Valentine’s Day is a commercial holiday. It is not about love and relationships; it is about selling flowers, candy, and diamond jewelry. Think of all the money you are saving.
  4. Plan well in advance to do something that will not place you in the path of billing and cooing couples. Even if you usually like dining out alone, do something else on Valentine’s Day.
  5. Get together with people who do love you – friends, family members, and the people who already have relationships with you.
  6. If you are single and you don’t want to be, start now to think about what is in the way of creating the relationship you want. Find ways to work on becoming the person your dream partner would fall in love with. Start therapy. Take up yoga. Begin to volunteer. Create art. Make meaning. Act to change the world. It is into the fullest lives that love is most likely to fall.
  7. If you are single and you like it, now is the time to affirm your choice. People who never marry or partner have close, loving, emotionally intimate relationships and lives worth living. Do not let a couple-driven culture define your choice as something wrong.

If you believe that you or a loved one has or may have depression, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Please contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment, or visit for more information.


Abuse: Emotional Abuse Warning Signs (Part 2)

manipulation-bergencountyIn the world of relationships, balance is one of the core key factors to a successful one. Unfortunately in an emotionally abusive relationship, the healthy balance of trust, communication and fairness is deeply disturbed. There is a dominating partner who has manipulative tendencies and a submissive partner who has codependent tendencies. The manipulative partner usually tries to have total power by controlling the victim’s actions, thoughts, and emotions. Often victims do not even realize that they are being manipulated. The victims of these relationships need to be what the manipulators want them to be or they will deal with emotionally damaging consequences.

There are five main signs that can help you determine if you are in an emotionally abusive relationship:

  1. The manipulator makes you feel guilty for things you should not feel guilty about. He will make you feel guilty for actions that you should not feel guilty about so you will be more likely to do what he asks. For example, he would make you feel guilty for hanging out with your friends instead of with him. Of course it is normal for your significant other to want to spend quality time with you, but an abuser will see your other close relationships as threats and prevent you from having them.
  2. The manipulator makes you doubt yourself by making you feel bad. He will be point out your weaknesses and insecurities and tell you how he can do things better. He will say condescending comments or try to put you down. If you are insecure, have low self-esteem or are in a state of self-doubt, you will eventually believe in everything he says. By trying to convince you that his way is better, he is trying to control you. He will make you think he is thinking about what is best for you, but in reality, he is only thinking about himself.
  3. The manipulator will use his insecurities in order to get what he wants from you. He will tell you all the past suffering he has been through with past relationships to define the current one. For example, he will tell you that he has been cheated on and lied to, so he will ask you to understand that you cannot have any male friends. Does that make sense to you? You are not the cheater, his past girlfriends were. It is understandable that he is insecure, but his past should not define what you can and cannot do in the present.
  4. The manipulator will give ultimatums to prove your love and loyalty to him. He will give you the “if you love me you will do this” statement because if don’t do what he wants, you do not truly love him. As a result of these crazy requests, you will ultimately abandon your wants and feelings to please your partner’s. A healthy relationship is based on compromise and reasoning, not accommodating to everything your abusive partner wants.
  5. The manipulator will threaten himself or others when everything else fails. When you do not comply with any of his manipulative requests, he will resort to harming himself to force you to do what he wants. Extreme manipulators that show these harmful qualities may need to seek professional help from psychotherapists and counselors.

If you feel like these warning signs may apply to your situation with your significant other, it is strongly recommended that you reconsider the relationship or seek marriage or relationship counseling. If you or a loved one live in Manhattan or Bergen County New Jersey and might be suffering from psychological abuse and manipulation, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners amd psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can assist you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. Visit for more information

Relationships: Emotional Abuse


Relationships: Emotional Abuse

By: Catherine Ferreira

The typical image of an abusive partnership is often one of violence. It is one of bruises and broken bones; of random angry outbursts and bloodied hands. While not far from the truth, this portrayal can more often than not be greatly misleading.

There is a much deadlier, more sinister form of abuse that is not often talked about. It is not always noticeable, either. It takes the form of emotional abuse, or “any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish one’s sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth”1. Emotionally abusive relationships do not simply consist of dramatic emotional outbursts or random fits of anger. It is so deadly exactly because it is so subtle: something as simple as “You’ve been gaining a lot of weight lately” can be an act of violence because it implies your partner has a degree of control over you.

It can come out in more overt ways, too: manipulation and ultimatums; threatening to kill oneself; unfounded jealousy and a sense of entitlement; constant begging, badgering, stalking—all of these and more constitute what it means to be in an abusive relationship. Worst of all, they are symptoms of a toxic cycle that is hard to acknowledge and harder still to break.

Fortunately, however, guidance from a professional therapist can help you learn how to break out of this cycle. If you or a loved one live in Manhattan or Bergen County New Jersey and are in need of therapy or relationship counseling, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can assist you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.  Visit for more information.


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Relationship Style: What Your Relationship Says About Your Parents

By: Nicole Bieniasz

Did you know your parents shape the relationship you are in today? The partners we select and the relationships we pursue are dependent on the attachment styles we develop as children. Parents are the first human beings to whom children develop an emotional attachment, which then dictates the different attachment styles they have. Attachment is a reinforced process that develops when parents respond and attend to a child’s emotional needs. Some parents will rush to their child the moment they cry, while other parents completely dismiss the action. The relationship the parents decide to have with their child determines the attachment style the child will have and grow into as an adult. There are four primary attachment styles that can be beneficial or detrimental towards an individual’s relationship as an adult. Here are the four attachment styles:

1. Secure Attachment: Children who develop a secure attachment see their parents as a secure base. The child feels independent and will continue to explore without the mother’s presence. Someone who is securely attached can easily be comforted in the absence of the mother even when it is clear the child only wants the mother. Relationships for this kind of individual reflect the mother-child relationship. A relationship with someone with a secure attachment is a healthy relationship where the person is honest, open, independent, loving, and empathetic.

2. Anxious/Ambivalent Attachment: A child who has an anxious/ambivalent attachment shows distress when the mother is not present and is not easily comforted upon her return. A child relies on their mother to fulfill constant needs and becomes clingy if their needs are not constantly met. A relationship with an individual like this is the opposite of a secure attachment. A person with this attachment faces frequent break ups and complains about cold/distant relationships. Anxious attachments cause a person to constantly seek a partner that will complete them.

3. Avoidant Attachment: This attachment differs from the two previously discussed. Avoidant attachment is seen in children when the child is indifferent about the parent’s presence. The way this person responds to parents and strangers is the same. Being in a relationship with this kind of individual is very difficult because this individual is emotionally distant. Avoidant individuals invest little or no emotional energy and find it very hard to connect with others.

4. Disorganized Attachment: This is a combination of anxious and avoidant attachments. The child has no definitive way of relating to those they love because this was never presented by the parent. Relationships for this person are very complicated because this individual experiences emotional storms due to the uncertainty of whether they want to be too close or too distant from the person. This individual trusts the same person they feel will hurt them the most.

Each of these attachment styles differ in their own way and are more complicated than others. If you are concerned that you or your partner are having problems, the licensed professionals at Arista Counseling&Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. Visit for more information.


The Power of Compassion- Bergen County, NJ

By: Michelle Dierna


Positive Psychology:Psychotherapy & Compassion

What is compassion? For dozens of year’s clinical research has focused on elucidating on the psychology of human suffering. Suffering, an unpleasant part in life, often also has a lighter side, which unfortunately research has paid less attention to in prior studies: this being compassion.

How does compassion differentiate from altruism and empathy?

Empathy is described as an emotional experience of another person’s feelings. It is, in a sense, an automatic mirroring or understanding of others emotions. Pure empathy can be shown in various ways: if one is witnessing a loved one cry over a loss of their puppy that just died and made you cry as well; this is when empathy appears externally. Altruism can be correlated with empathy in some ways because when one performs actions of altruism, it is selflessness in purest form; it’s a positive characteristic trait to have, whether it is followed by compassion or empathy. A donation to a charity can be an example of an act of altruism; it is an action that benefits someone else.

  • Compassion can involve both empathic and altruistic behavior because it is an emotional response when perceiving suffering and involves an authentic desire to help others.

Compared to other positive emotions, compassion has been predominantly neglected. Likely because, until psychology defines an emotion, it is extremely difficult to measure or study it. Often when something is not clearly defined, easily understood, measured or weighed, it is as though that idea does not exist. However, compassion and love do exist, they are real feelings just as real and important as anger and anxiety is. Although we cannot measure compassion as we could in tests performed for anxiety, mood disorders, depression etc. It is believed that we’re born with compassion but betrayal, abandonment and rejection displace it with other feelings like anger and resentment.

  • “A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that this is just true, that both animals and humans might have what Dacher Keltner from the University of California calls a “compassionate instinct,” a natural response that ensures survival.”
  • In The Descent of Man and Selection In Relation to Sex, Charles Darwin argued for “the greater strength of the social or maternal instincts than that of any other instinct or motive.” In another passage, he comments “communities, which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members, would flourish best, and rear the greatest number of offspring.” Compassion may indeed be a naturally evolved and adaptive trait. Without it, the survival and flourishing of our species would have been unlikely.”

In an approach to Western psychological tradition, our greatest thinkers and researchers have focused on understanding hysteria, obsessions, psychoses, compulsions, depression, anxiety, impulsive anger, personality disorders etc. On the other hand, very little scientific research or theoretical thought has gone into understanding positive emotions or the psychology of human strengths and well -being.

The reason a compassionate lifestyle can lead to healthier psychological well-being can be explained by the fact that the act of giving appears to be as pleasurable, if not more so, as the act of receiving. In a brain image study conducted by neuroscientist Jordan Grafman from the National Institutes of Health, it appeared that the act of giving is pleasurable just as much as receiving is; this study displays that the “pleasure centers” in the brain, i.e., the parts of the brain that are active when we experience pleasure (like dessert, money, and sex), are equally active when we observe someone giving money to charity as when we receive money ourselves! Thus, giving to others habitually increases over all well being, above and beyond what we experience when we spend money on ourselves.

In addition, Leading researcher in positive psychology, and APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow Martin Seligman, a pioneer of the psychology of happiness and human flourishing, suggests that connecting with others in a meaningful way helps us enjoy better mental and physical health and speeds up recovery from disease; furthermore has shown that it may even lengthen our life spans.

“Sometimes we imagine that we can find happiness outside of ourselves-in wealth, success, fame, work, or relationships. The truth is that the extent to which we are happy depends mainly on our emotions. Even if we together with someone close to us in a very beautiful setting, if we ourselves are feeling extremely anxious or angry then we certainly won’t be happy. On the other hand, if we’re feeling very strong love or compassion, then we can be happy even in difficult external circumstances.”

  • Different forms of compassion: Paul Ekman, PhD, a world-renowned expert on facial expressions has classified compassion into the following forms:
  1. Emotion recognition: knowing how another person is feeling.
  2. Emotional resonance: Feeling the other person’s pain
  3. Familial Compassion: Planted through the caregiver-offspring bond is the seed of all compassion.
  4. Global Compassion: refers to feeling part of the whole.
  5. Sentient Compassion: Extended to all living things.
  6. Heroic Compassion: Is a form of altruism in which a person takes a risk

In the psychotherapy field, those who support compassion as a therapeutic tool, can believe that it helps patients gain not only self control and mental clarity, but also the capacity to observe others, feel their pain and respond with kindness, acceptance and compassion. This doesn’t just improve the relationship one has with themselves but also relationships with others.

 If lack of passion is causing stress or anxiety, Feel free to contact the Bergen County, New Jersey and Manhattan offices of Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy, where psychotherapists, psychologists and psychiatrists with years of experience in cognitive behavioral therapy and other therapeutic techniques that can help you conquer current struggles. Call (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

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Listening: A Multifaceted Skill- Bergen County, NJ

By: Laine Podell


Listening: A Multifaceted Skill

One of the traits many people look for in a partner is good listening skills. But what does it actually take to qualify as a “good listener”?

Imagine the following scenario—someone gets upset because they feel their partner is not listening to them. The partner counters by repeating the most recent lines that were spoken, to prove they were indeed listening. This response shows they heard the words, not that they were being a good listener.  There are many other factors we must consider besides hearing, to recognize good listening skills.

First is providing undivided attention. While having a conversation, if you are simultaneously watching a baseball game or flipping through a clothing catalogue, you are not being the best listener you can be. Find a time when both parties can provide their complete attention.

Next, remember that listening involves two senses—hearing and seeing. Of course you must hear the words, but communication is largely about body language. A good listener additionally looks for nonverbal cues to properly understand what is said. Facial expressions and posture are two examples of cues which are an important part of connection.

 Finally, hearing is meaningless until the words are processed and understood. Absorb what was said, and provide a response when appropriate. If you do not understanding something, ask the person for clarification. Sometimes it may take interpreting, while other cases may be more straightforward.

 Always remember that listening is multifaceted. If communication is an issue in your relationship or family, professional counseling may be beneficial. If you are in Bergen County, New Jersey, feel free to call 201-368-3700 to find out more information or make an appointment with one of our own licensed professional counselors, therapists, psychologists or psychiatrists who have helped many with troubles such as yours.

Marriage & Relationships: Is your partner in love? – Bergen County, NJ

By: Davine Holness

how to tell if your partner loves you

Marriage & Relationships: What are some signs that can clue you in that your partner loves you?

Actions speak louder than words.  Couples and marriage partners often say they love each other, but how do they show it?  Here are some clues that have been found by psychological research to be signs of being in love.  People who are in love…

  1. Find time for each other.  They want to spend as much time with each other as they can.
  2. Ask each other about their day, keeping lines of communication open.
  3.  Trust each other, giving each other the benefit of the doubt.
  4. Provide help for each other when it’s needed
  5. Respect each other’s points of view, even if there is disagreement.
  6. Include each other in important decisions.
  7. Show affection and are emotionally intimate.  They show signs of physical closeness.
  8. Look at each other and enjoy each other’s presence.
  9. Reminisce together, reliving enjoyable moments.
  10. See the relationship as worth fighting for.
  11. Boost each other’s self esteem and make each other feel valued.

For help with any kind of relationship issues, feel free to talk to the experienced marriage and relationship counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 996-3939.


Krauss, S. (2014, March 15). 11 Ways to Tell if Your Lover Loves You. Retrieved June 9, 2014