Dr Judy 24/7
Tuesday
Nov062012

Deciding on whom to vote for? The Presidential Race and Happiness

Even though the outcome of the presidential race hangs significantly on the state of the economy and the unemployment rate, research has shown emotions often matter more to people than money.

A clue to the appeal of one psychological concept -- happiness -- occurred during the first presidential debate when a focus group's ratings spiked after Mitt Romney referred to the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Assurances about collective well-being was certainly evident in President Obama's words in New Jersey after the devastation of superstorm Sandy when he said, "We look after one another and we don't leave anyone behind."

See my op ed on ABCNEWS.com 

 

Saturday
Nov032012

Coping after Superstorm Sandy: Psychological advice

See poston foxnews.com:   http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/10/30/coping-after-sandy-seven-psychological-tips-plus-bonus/

With the Super Storm Sandy wreaking havoc in people’s lives across the United States, with surges, snow, home evacuations, power outages, interruptions in school and work, property destruction, and severe financial losses, emotional trauma can impede recovery. While protecting people and restoring safety, power, and property, is a priority in the wake of natural disasters, emotional coping also matters.  These tips help. 

 

  • Accept a wide range of your psychological reactions. Given that natural disasters are out of our control, expect to feel helpless and powerless.  Having no-one to blame can trigger frustration taken out on others; so be wary about yelling at your spouse, being short with a friend, or irritable with your child. Avoid suffering “survivor guilt” or blaming yourself for feeling relieved if you did not suffer as much as others. Recognize if your faith falters, as it did for survivors I helped after the Haiti earthquake.

 

  • Examine how you explain life. According to the psychological concept of “locus of control,” rate your philosophy of life on a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 equals your belief that fate, luck and forces outside yourself determine your life and “7” equals you are the full master of your fate.  The reality is that we cannot control everything that happens to us, but we can exert as much control as possible over what happens, and we do have total control over how we react.  

 

  • Connect with others.  In tragic and threatening times, notice whom you contact and who contacts you, acknowledging their importance. Not being able to think of anyone who cares about your welfare is a signal that you may need to create a stronger social support system, which research shows facilitates positive coping in emergencies and life in general. Those not at risk should reach out to those in danger zones, to show their support and offer help. 

 

  • Grow from the experience. Research shows that negative experiences not only cause post-traumatic distress but can lead to positive changes, called post-traumatic growth. In innumerable natural disasters where I have helped survivors, like after Hurricanes Hugo and Katrina and earthquakes in San Francisco, China, Haiti and Japan, finding new meaning in life is possible. During Super Storm Sandy, my drug store clerk told me, “I don’t want to complain about silly things anymore since I can lose everything at any moment.” New commitments in relationships can be made, like my neighbor who decided, “I decided I’m going to spend more time with my children than working all the time.” 

 

  • Use the opportunity to learn more about the environment.  Survivors in recovery groups I led in Sri Lanka after the Asian tsunami were confused about what happened and wanted to know “Will this happen again?” Lakc of knowledge escalates anxiety, so learn about nature’s events, and be reassured that technology can increasingly predict occurrences. In my newly released book, “Living in an environmentally Traumatized World: Healing Ourselves and Our Planet” natural scientists explain inevitable changes and shifts in our waters, air, and earth, and psychologists explain how to cope.

 

  • Get back to normal as soon as possible. While schools and places of employment close, sometimes for days, get back to your routine as quickly as possible. 

 

  • Be prepared for feelings to last.  Even when media attention fades and dangers subside, emotions after a major natural disaster can linger. An argument a week later may be left-over anger from the event. Noticing this connection can prevent personal delayed explosions. 

 

  • Pay particular attention to children reactions.  When school is suspended for days as during this storm, children are well aware of the event. Use the storm as a “teachable moment” to explain about unexpected events and ask about their thoughts and feelings. Be alert to any nightmares, especially as this storm coincides with the fantasy and fright of Halloween. Children may have nightmares; so be reassuring and spend extra time at night. Other youngsters may resist leaving home, for fear of what may happen to the family. Set up contact mechanisms with children, like programming their cell phone, so you can be in touch.   

 

Bio

Dr Judy Kuriansky is an internationally known clinical psychology affiliated with Columbia University Teachers College, a Fellow of the American Psychological Association,  and an NGO representative at the United Nations.  She has helped survivors after innumerable natural disasters, including Hurricanes Hugo and Katrina, and earthquakes in China, Haiti and Japan.  Her recently released book is “Living in an Environmentally Traumatized World: Healing Ourselves and our Planet”(Praeger, 2012).  www.DrJudy.com.

 

Saturday
Nov032012

Deciding on voting for Obama or Romney: Analyzing Your Own and the Candidates' Thinking Style Can Help 

Herrmann International

Presidential Candidates' Thinking Styles and How They Impact Voter Decision-Making

Can’t decide between Obama or Romney? How they think and how their thinking style mixes and matches with yours – combined with what might be best for the country – can help you choose.

More Information

From President Obama's recent display of both decisive action and compassion in New Jersey to Governor Romney's shifting his campaign plans to help pack emergency relief boxes, while also reminding voters of the administration's poor record on jobs, Superstorm Sandy has provided a real-life opportunity to see the presidential candidates respond in a crisis situation. While it's still yet to be determined how they will approach handling the country's critical issues – unemployment, health care and international relations – voters can uncover some clues by analyzing the candidates' thinking styles.
Over 30 years of research by Herrmann International proves that thinking preferences play a crucial role in decision making, choice of profession, attraction to others, and even response to certain words and behavior. The four-quadrant model of thinking styles, documented in "The Whole Brain Business Book" (McGraw Hill, 1996), can be thought of as subgroups of the left and right hemispheres of the brain:
  1. The logician (left): Prefers facts, analysis, and being correct, consistent with professions like lawyers, bankers, doctors and scientists. These voters prefer candidates with successful financial judgment and business experience who can balance the budget and get the facts right. They respond to words like "think" and "the facts prove." Romney's emphasis of his business experience would appeal, but fact-checking questions could detract.
  2. The safekeeper (left): Risk-averse, tending to stick to strict plans, agendas, and regulations, consistent with jobs chosen by accountants and supervisors. Safekeepers seek low-risk, time-tested plans that assure safety and security, conservative spending, and a track record of proof. Obama's getting bin Laden wins big for safety, but the confusion around Benghazi poses threat.
  3. The communicator (right): Appreciates expression, compassion, and relationships, seen in the activities of caretakers, teachers and therapists. Communicators (more often women, according to data) prefer emotional connection and compassion. Thus, they may respond to the perception of Obama as caring, suggested by his embrace of the term Obamacare, and also may have warmed to Romney's recent (likely coached) more personable presentation and feeling-based word choices in the debates.
  4. The visionary (right): Prefers innovation, imagination, and conceptual ideas, appealing to artists and consultants. These voters are intrigued by change, get excited about what's "new," and look towards the future. Here, Romney's promise of jobs and economic growth are tempting while Obama's campaign slogan of "forward" can appeal, though his "hope and change" message of 2008 was more strongly associated with this style.
What the styles reveal are natural preferences and mental "defaults," but regardless of these preferences, everyone has the ability to tap into the other skills when necessary.
So how do the two major party tickets think? The four thinking styles yield an HBDI® Profile based on answers to a psychometric questionnaire, but for purposes of this analysis, Herrmann International researchers conducted a hypothetical rating (called a "proforma" profile) of the data of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, and their respective running mates, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan.
Romney: Logician (100), Safekeeper (70), Communicator (40), Visionary (60)
Ryan: Logician (90), Safekeeper (80), Communicator (50), Visionary (40)
Obama: Logician (70), Safekeeper (55), Communicator (70), Visionary (75)
Biden: Logician (60), Safekeeper (55), Communicator (85), Visionary (70)
Governor Romney is highly loaded in the logician and safekeeping styles, consistent with business and analytic skills demanded to turn around companies and run the Olympics, but people may matter less in the process. Representative Ryan's profile is very similar to Romney's. With two similar candidates on the ticket, other staff would need to fill in the advantages of their least preferred preferences.
President Obama has the highest visionary score of all candidates. His scores also strike a balance between vision, logician and communicator, while safekeeping is his least preferred. Vice President Biden's score as a communicator is predominant, consistent with his self-admitted shoot-from-the-hip expression in real life.
Another set of HBDI® profiles of computer-generated scores based on what Obama and Romney said in the debates revealed very little difference between the candidates' profiles, supporting the widely held notion that all have been coached to situationally adapt their styles, carefully selecting words, clothes, and even body language to appeal to various constituencies. Because this makes it harder for voters to make their decisions in a clear-minded fashion, the hypothetical model above can help ferret out true tendencies in the midst of media-projected images.
Since "birds of a feather flock together," voters may favor the team that flows smoothly with their own, but opposites also attract. A voter may decide to go with a headstrong candidate to overcompensate for his/her own lack of assertion, for example, or someone who tends to come up with "crazy" ideas may want to be tempered with a more steady, even rigid, personality.
No style is "good" or "bad"; instead, they matter in terms of their appeal to voters, how the strengths of the style manifest on the job, and that the less-preferred styles are mobilized when needed, either by personally adapting to the situation or getting the alternate perspective from others in their circle.
Based on Herrmann International data, the U.S. public as an aggregate is fairly balanced across all four quadrants, suggesting that voters have a need for all four styles – fact-checking, safekeeping, and proof as well as compassion and hope for a better future.
About the Authors:
Ann Herrmann-Nehdi is CEO of Herrmann International, originator of the Whole Brain® Thinking approach and publisher of the HBDI® assessment tool, used by nine out of ten of the Fortune 100 to help them achieve better results through better thinking. A thought leader in her field and a contributor to a number of scholarly and industry journals and handbooks, Ann is currently completing a new book that will provide leaders with a blueprint for greater success in the 21st century, based on what we know about how the brain and business work. http://www.herrmannsolutions.com
Dr Judy Kuriansky is an internationally known clinical psychologist affiliated with Columbia University Teachers College, an honorary professor at Beijing Health Science Center in China, and an NGO representative at the United Nations. Her many books include "The Complete Idiots Guide to a Healthy Relationship," "Beyond Bullets and Bombs: Grassroots peacebuilding between Israelis and Palestinians," and the recently released "Living in an Environmentally Traumatized World: Healing Ourselves and our Planet"(Praeger, 2012). http://www.DrJudy.com.

Core Facts

  1. 30 years of research by Herrmann International proves that thinking preferences play a crucial role in decision making, choice of profession, attraction to others, and even response to certain words and behavior.
  2. Thinking styles of the major party candidates for U.S. president can reveal some clues about how they will approach handling the country's critical issues, from unemployment and health care to international relations.
  3. Based on proforma ratings, Romney and Ryan have similar thinking style preferences, skewing to the "logician" (preferring facts, analysis) and "safekeeping" (risk-averse, preferring strict plans) styles.
  4. Obama has the highest "visionary" score of all candidates and is fairly equally balanced in "visionary," "logician" and "communicator," with "safekeeping" his least preferred style. Biden's strongest style is "communicator."
  5. Voters may be drawn to the styles that most resemble their own, but opposites also attract, as individuals may choose the candidates whose styles balance or fill the gaps from their own preferences.
  6. Based on Herrmann International data, the U.S. public as an aggregate is fairly balanced across all four thinking preferences, suggesting that voters have a need for all four styles -- fact-checking, safekeeping, and proof as well as compassion and hope for a better future.

Images

Company information

The originator of the Whole Brain® system and the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument® (HBDI®) thinking styles assessment, Herrmann International works with organizations around the world to help them put their full brainpower to work to outthink, outpace and outperform the competition. The company’s Whole Brain® Thinking framework, which includes a variety of learning solutions, facilitation resources, job aids and business tools, has helped nine out of 10 of the Fortune 100 harness their collective intelligence to sell more, spend less, innovate faster, and develop and retain the best talent. 
Short URL: http://prst.co/3VK

 

 

Sunday
Sep092012

Romney and Obama Get High Ratings for Love

abcnews.go.com

 

Columbia University Teachers College Psychologist Examines How the Candidates' Convention Talk Appealed to Voters' Emotions

Issues like jobs, taxes and war surely affect how people vote, but research shows that people cast their ballot based on emotional reactions to candidates.

Some political analysts have suggested that both the Republican and Democratic conventions left people confused about whether the party in power has created more jobs or fewer, and unsure about the answer to the question, "Are you better off now than four years ago?"

So how did the candidates stack up with regard to feelings? Was it any clearer?

In revealing personal aspects of their marriages and family lives in their convention speeches, the candidates seduced us by making us yearn for aspects of healthy relationships.

Here's how the candidates scored on dimensions of healthy relationships, as outlined in my book, "The Compete Idiot's Guide to a Healthy Relationship":

Mitt Romney

 

Heart

 

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's opening comments in his campaign acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Aug. 30, defined his running mate Paul Ryan first as "a man with a big heart," and later as a "caring" leader, earning Romney a score of "7."

Surveys show that "caring" is a top personal quality women seek in a partner. Just as the heart provides essential lifeblood, a big heart indicates highly desirable generosity and compassion. These qualities humanize Ryan as well as Romney, himself -- highlighting softer, loving traits.

 

Unconditional Love

 

Romney's definition of his parents' unconditional love, as if straight out of a psychology textbook, earned him an exceptionally powerful score of "10." Unconditional love is the best foundation parents can provide for a child's growth, self-esteem and confidence in pursuing their dreams.

"My mom and dad gave their kids the greatest gift of all -- the gift of unconditional love," Romney said. "They cared deeply about who we would BE, and much less about what we would DO."

Such support is often out of adults' reach, constricted by criticisms and judgments, yet it is an ideal to strive for. In parenting with unconditional love, disapproval can be directed at a behavior, not who the child IS.

Similarly, love between partners should not depend on what you look like, earn, do or say, but be extended for who you are inside as a person.

 

Love

 

Love heals and nurtures.

"All the laws and legislation in the world will never heal this world like the loving hearts and arms of mothers and fathers," said Romney, earning him a score of "10" for elevating love over power or rules. "If every child could drift to sleep feeling wrapped in the love of their family -- and God's love -- this world would be a far more gentle and better place."

Indeed, putting children to bed and waking them up with a cheerful and loving spirit prepares them to grow up being kind and peaceful adults.

Couples should do the same for each other to be better able to face inevitable stresses of the day. Loving and feeling loved reduces anger that fuels aggression and attempts at control.

 

Romance

 

All couples want to know the "secret" to an enduring relationship and love life. In his acceptance speech, Romney revealed the "secret" to his parents' 64-year marriage, evidenced by the sweet gesture of the rose left daily by his father for his mother -- a sweet tip worth a score of "6."

A calendar of romantic acts is one of the many tips outlined in my book, including simple daily romantic words or actions, like a loving note tucked in a briefcase or lighting a candle over dinner.

 

Partnership

 

Achieving "true" partnership, being "there" for each other, is one of the true tests of love outlined in my book.

Romney provided a top-notch example of this, earning him another score of "10," when describing how when his "mom ran for the Senate, my dad was there for her every step of the way."

Such support is an excellent example for all American couples.

 

Respect

 

Respect for and honoring of women is evident in Romney adoring his mother's "beautiful voice," in his hiring women, his appreciating the value of his wife, Ann Romney, in her role as mother (even in contrast to his own "job" as breadwinner), and also in his adoration of and loyalty to her in times of trouble. The image of Romney hugging his wife as they heard her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis was a true display of a healthy relationship, in stark contrast to pervasive unfaithfulness suffered by so many American couples (and certainly to the betrayal of a previous high-level political candidate in the face of his wife's tragic struggle with cancer).

Fulfilling the promise of being loyal "in sickness and in health" is a fundamental characteristic of a deeply loving, long-lasting and healthy relationship. Romney's display rates a score of "10" because such loyalty inspires trust -- shown by surveys to be a top quality desired by couples and essential for a healthy relationship.

 

Deep Connection

 

Creating a sense of family provides a secure foundation to grow and function in today's stressful world. In the face of high divorce rates and all-too-common fractured families, few can resist the endearing image of a parents' bed invaded by five rambunctious young sons -- as Romney described one of the joys of parenthood for he and wife, Ann. It evoked an image worth a score of "6."

Short of that ideal, couples can create extended families to develop deep connectedness that contribute to thriving.

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama didn't have to say much about his marriage to his wife, Michelle Obama, in his acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination on Sept. 6 in Charlotte, N.C., because she did it all for him. Her widely touted speech two days earlier delivered a public love letter likened to none in the history of presidential conventions.

In her testimonial, she said, "Today, I love my husband even more than I did four years ago ... even more than I did 23 years ago, when we first met."

She also used a magic word that seals a healthy relationship, according to hundreds of surveys: trust.

"I love that we can trust Barack to do what he says he's going to do, even when it's hard -- especially when it's hard," she said.

The first lady also praised "unconditional love" from her parents, just as Romney did the week before. The use of this professional term so soon after Romney's use of the same made me wonder whether she or her speechwriters knew the positive psychological impact that allusion would have.

With such a testimonial, Obama didn't need to say as much directly about his wife and marriage as Romney did. He needed only to open his speech with a solid affirmation of love that therapists recommend to all couples: Turn to your partner directly and say how you feel.

 

Love Declarations

 

"Michelle, I love you so much," Obama said, looking directly at his wife in the front row.

The three simple, magic words -- "I love you" -- are what so many women desperately want to hear their man say directly to them. Those are also the three magic words so many men and women fear saying, or forget to say after years of being together.

His words were made even more powerful -- worth a score more than "10" so I gave it a "12" -- by adding the words "so much," and by using the partner's name, as Obama did, saying, "Michelle, I love you so much."

Obama scored higher than Romney in his opening remarks by addressing his wife first, instead of first pointing out the positive qualities of his running mate.

 

Appreciation

 

Continuing his avowal to his wife and letting us all in on it, the president continued, "A few nights ago, everyone was reminded just what a lucky man I am."

Such recognition is a partner's dream. It added "7" more points to his score.

As therapists advise, bump up your appreciation with using additional simple, but magic, words: how lucky you are. The more you let everyone know how lucky you are to have your partner, the more she glows from being so adored and valued.

 

Recognition

 

Everyone likes to be acknowledged and praised for what they contribute to a relationship and that they provide valued support in their partner's life.

The president did that deftly, saying, "[It] wasn't about me. It was about you," and adding, "You're the reason a young man in Colorado who never thought he'd be able to afford his dream of earning a medical degree is about to get that chance. You made that possible. You're the reason a young immigrant who grew up here and went to school here and pledged allegiance to our flag will no longer be deported from the only country she's ever called home; why selfless soldiers won't be kicked out of the military because of who they are or who they love."

The passage earns a "7" for evoking imagery of reaching dreams, being home, loving whom you choose. It pulls at heartstrings.

 

Need

 

In saying, "I'm hopeful because of you," the president expressed a kind of dependence that is healthy in a relationship.

Couples crave knowing that they're needed and like being asked to help. Obama's appeal was even more direct when he said, "Help me recruit 100,000 math and science teachers in the next 10 years, and improve early childhood education."

His expression of need was worth a score of "6."

 

Partnership

 

The partnership Romney described in his parents' marriage, Obama extended to us.

"I'm proud of what we've accomplished together," he said, drawing us in. His reassuring us that, "We will pull each other up," earned him another score of "6." Being given credit and being reassured of being part of a team in success intensifies a bond.

 

Commitment and Destiny

 

Other words and phrases that stand out in the president's speech, even buried within more political points, evoke allusions to healthy relationships -- words like "commitment" and phrases like "our destinies are bound together."

Commitment is essential in love, and feeling tied by forces stronger than yourselves intensifies the bond. Each one earns a score of "3 1/2" (which would be more, if elaborated), for a total of "7."

 

Apology

 

Perhaps one of the most risky, yet also essential, aspects of a healthy relationship is admitting your own inadequacies or failings, and how you've let the other person down. It takes great courage and Obama showed it -- earning score of "10" -- when he said in his speech, "You can be disappointed with me," and "I'm far more mindful of my own failings."

Quoting President Lincoln, he said, "I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go."

Such admissions are essential for any partner to agree to move forward in a relationship -- affirming the relevance of "forward" as the president's reelection campaign theme.

"We will learn from our mistakes," he said.

Apologies have to happen before a betrayed partner can regain trust and agree to give the transgressor another chance -- like Obama is asking the American public to do, in the face of broken promises and disappointment in his performance.

Romney vs. Obama: The Love Scale Score

Score 59 for Romney and 55 for Obama on the love scale.

Joe Biden's Love Address

Interestingly, Vice President Joe Biden took a similar tact to the president in his convention speech with an opening comment directly declaring devotion to his wife. Like Obama, he addressed her by name, and used those three simple magic words: "I love you."

Expanding the romance, he let us deeper into his boudoir talk, with a poetic twist, when he added, "You're the love of my life and the life of my love."

What woman would not be seduced by the thought of a man so wildly pursuing her love?

Unashamedly, Biden declared in his speech how thrilled he was to hear his wife say publicly in her address at the convention, "I've always loved you." Here was a man admitting his relief in being told he's loved, after a history of five pleas before getting her nod.

Another healthy relationship move the V.P. did: value your wife's career -- again, the more publicly the better.

The happiest spouse will say, "He helps me be who I really want to be," and, "He tells the world how wonderful I am."

Biden's acknowledgement of his wife's accomplishments as a teacher would make any female voter think, "I want a man like that in my life."

In the past, President Obama has also admitted to pursuing his wife before she finally gave in and dated him.

A man willing to be vulnerable and admit his pursuit of being loved is appealing indeed. So is the Romney story of childhood sweethearts in long-lasting love.

With the American people suffering so much from fractured families and financial woes, the candidates would do well to invoke these qualities of healthy relationships in their race for the hearts of Americans.

Judy Kuriansky is a clinical psychologist and couples counselor who goes by the name of "Dr. Judy" and is well known for dispensing advice on the radio. She has donated to a Republican presidential campaign in the past. The opinions expressed here are her own.

Saturday
Aug252012

Hope Springs in Marital Counseling

 

After 31 years of marriage and two grown kids, Kay and Arnold from Omaha Nebraska haven’t had sex in five years and are sleeping in separate rooms.  Fed up, Kay prepays $4,000 for a week of intensive couples counseling, requiring travel across the country to the tiny town of Hope Springs in Maine.

Kay and Arnold are fictional spouses in the movie “Hope Springs” but their story and dialogue is so true-to-life, the audience might as well be a fly on the wall of real therapy sessions with a real couple. 

Kay, played frumpy, shy and retiring, by the brilliant character actor Meryl Streep, is a stereotypical menopausal wife and mother, who rotely serves bacon and eggs to her husband every morning and endures his ignoring her, reading the paper and watching golf on ESPN. The boorish, grumpy, and unnervingly uncommunicative Arnold is brilliantly portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones., as a stereotypical left-brained accountant, terrified of expressing feelings and intimacy. Always having squinted his eyes shut in sex, he – no surprise—turns out to suffer from erectile dysfunction when, in one of the most powerful scenes in the movie, he finally locks in a deep gaze with his yearning wife. 

Steve Carell from the TV show “The Office,” portrays an ever-so-even tempered therapist with probing questions and exercises (“homework”) right out of a counseling manual. 

The town’s name turns out to be a good metaphor for the fact that Hope can Spring from such counseling.

Here are some highlights that are so true-to-life:

It’s the woman who reaches her wits end and insists the spouses go to therapy. The man resists. (He does have one legit complaint:  the $4,000 fee is high for a weeks’ worth of only one session a day, not including room and board!).

Out-of-town week-long counseling is straight out of the original sex therapy model from the early 1970s by Masters and Johnson – dubbed the grandmother and grandfather of sex—where sex-starved couples spent a week at their center in St. Louis.  Escaping their normal routine and stress is essential, with a hotel room as a useful setting to jumpstart passion.

  The counseling is so true-to-life, as if the writer recorded a real couples’ process.

The initial session is always an exploration about what both partners want and fear. The first “homework” is always to spend the night just holding and hugging, with no sex.  Back in the office, they report how it went; sometimes, but not in this case, couples have spontaneous “cures” and shyly report “successful” sex (since disobeying instructions eliminates performance pressures).

Appropriately probing questions about fantasies reveals Arnold’s secrets straight out of statistical surveys: oral sex and a threesome.  True also to stereotype, Kate pictures romance, renewing vows on the beach (they do, in the credit-rolling tearjerker scene), longing for deep kisses, and revealing that she’s unschooled in performing fellatio.  Ever so stereotypically, the proper matron later steals in the supermarket to buy fruit, and practice in the bathroom on a banana (which she first absentmindedly eats), while following instructions from the real tome by a gay man (who supposedly knows best).

In another key step in real therapy, the couple expresses upsets and angers to each other, to clear the air. She’s shares that he never talks to her, he says she always quietly gets her own way.

An antidote to anger is sharing your best sex experience to reignite the glow.  Arnold and Kay finally smile at each other, recalling fondly a romp on the kitchen floor when he thoughtfully placed a towel behind her head so it wouldn’t bang against the hardwood.

As is typical, the man storms out of the sessions when topics get too personal.  The woman runs out too, in tears, when she’s too hurt (though against sex-role stereotypes in the film, Kay drowns her sorrows getting drunk in a bar (disappointedly) while Arnold retreats to a museum).

Another essential:  Tell each other what you each want. Typical, she wants love, he wants just “to do it.”  Ever so sweetly, Kay and Arnold try to accommodate each other, she by performing fellatio in a movie theatre, he by wining and dining her in a romantic restaurant and suite. 

The romantic dinner is a must.  Kay and Arnold’s night is complete with blazing fire, chocolate strawberries and champagne. 

But all does not always lead to the happy ending -- yet, in real life or in the film. When true intimacy looms – as Arnold opens his eyes to finally meet Kay’s in true love-making instead of just doing it - he can’t perform and Kay takes it to mean he doesn’t love her.  Ever-so-typical again, the woman blames herself for the man’s erectile dysfunction, feeling unloved, undesirable and rejected, when it’s really his fears and not her fault.

 True again to real life, only when the woman is ready to leave, the guy realizes he can’t live without her, drops his defenses and comes to her with more open heart.

Counseling like this really works.  The process could be right out of my session notes with many cases, and advice about steps to communication and intimacy in the “The Complete Idiots Guide to a Healthy Relationship” and “The Complete Idiots Guide to Tantric Sex.” 

The movie should be standard homework for real couples, following an article I wrote about “Cinematherapy” about how watching relevantly-themed films together is an excellent way for couples to vicariously confront tough relationship issues, model sharing, and experience success.    

While laughing out loud and getting choked up over Kay and Arnold’s journey, real couples can see how Hope really does Spring.