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Hi! I am Michael Heath and this is the Pine Ridge Pastoral Counseling Web Page. Pine Ridge is a place for folks who are looking for the best mental health care but who are turned off by large clinics or impersonal facilities.
Since 1994, Pine Ridge has offered a distinctive and more personal alternative for mental health needs while providing a comprehensive range of psychological services to help individuals, couples and families deal with a wide range of emotional, relational, crisis related, life phase and spiritual problems.
Since I am both a state Licensed Psychotherapist and a nationally Certified Pastoral Counselor, I offer a comprehensive therapeutic approach which can relate to both the psychological and spiritual dimensions of life’s difficulties .
This web site is a great place to learn about my areas of expertise and to find answers to questions you may have concerning psychotherapy, marriage counseling, couples counseling, and other counseling related issues. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please contact me and I’ll be glad to help.
Helping the people of Central New York since 1978 with:
- ANXIETY / DEPRESSION / OCD
- PTSD / SEXUAL ABUSE
- STRESS MANAGEMENT
- OBSESSIONS / COMPULSIONS
- LOSS AND GRIEVING
- SPIRITUAL CONFUSION / LOSS OF FAITH
- SHAME / GUILT / LOW SELF-ESTEEM
- POOR COUPLE COMMUNICATION
- ARGUMENTS / CONFLICT
- SEX / NO SEX
- PORNOGRAPHY / SEX ADDICTION
- BETRAYAL / INFIDELITY
- SEPARATION / DIVORCE
- MONEY / KIDS / INLAWS
Latest Blog Articles
By Rev. Michael Heath
For those who have recently lost their moms or for those who associate absence, neglect or other kinds of emotional trauma with their mothers, this holiday can be painful.
Apart from being aware of the fact that not everyone is excited about celebrating Mother’s Day, I wanted to share two thoughts.
Despite all of the progress psychology and medical science has made, there are many who still hold an outdated and misleading view of psychological disorders and their treatment. Common Misconceptions About Psychotherapy (verywellmind.com) To be clear from the get go: 1) Most of the people who have mental health issues are normal people. Their problems are generally caused by past trauma or by current stress or a combination of both. 2) Most counseling is a process by which clients can expand their awareness of how their past experiences and present have combined to create perceptional distortions and irrational emotional and behavioral reactions . The impact of this expanded awareness enables individuals to perceive life more accurately and respond to it in a more congruent way. The lack of public understanding is problematic because it perpetuates stigma, confusion, unnecessary fears and avoidance of seeking help. Let me update and expand on two of the most common mental health myths.
One of the most important emotional blessings of marriage is the experience of true intimacy and trust. Good communication is essential for building the trust which is needed to deal with marital challenges and problems. Knowing and understanding our partner’s feelings, opinions and preferences are necessary to resolve conflicts , negotiate compromises and to make joint decisions and future plans. Sexual communication is an important form of communication which is often overlooked and neglected.
While we do pretty well communicating when it’s about practical and mundane issues, when it comes to sex, there can be a problem. Sex is a tricky thing and difficult for many folks to talk about. Many have misguided feelings of guilt which prevent them from speaking honestly about their feelings or desires. Others think that their wants or preferences are abnormal and are ashamed to reveal them. Still others avoid talking about their frustrations or conflicts with their partner because they are afraid of either hurting their partner’s feelings or being personally rejected.
Fortunately, with a little help and practice , overcoming one’s uneasiness with and aversion to talking about sex can be accomplished. Greater sharing can lead to a more fulfilling and satisfying relationship. Indeed, learning to speak openly and explicitly about sexual matters with one’s mate can be a deeply rewarding and intimacy-enriching experience.
If you or your partner feel stuck in this area or have trouble sharing feelings or concerns about sex, here are seven tips to help you to get started opening the lines of communication with one another :
Easter is almost here but, to be honest and especially under COVID restrictions, it is not what it used to be. Even so, it still important even though this holiday means different things to different people. For some, Easter is a celebration of the coming of Spring. For others, it is a playful time for children and their colored eggs and chocolate bunnies. For Christians, it remains a time of spiritual renewal and remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Still for many, Easter has lost much of its spiritual meaning. Indeed, there is no denying that America is becoming less and less religious. A recent Gallup poll found that, for the first time since it has been keeping data, fewer than 50% of Americans attend Church. For many , the narrative of Jesus literally rising from the dead is an insurmountable obstacle.
Does this cultural shift and institutional decline mean that we have lost our ability to experience important spiritual dimensions of life ?
I don’t think so . I believe that form many the conceptual framework for experiencing spiritual matters has changed from supernatural representations to psychological ones . To the point, is it not necessary to suspend your belief in science to experience the full joy of Easter ? Likewise when holy scripture is interpreted metaphorically rather than literally or as a historical account, the full spiritual significance still shines through.
Easter may be understood as a spiritual/psychological metaphor which conveys, symbolically, the fundamental affirmation of faith. Apart from the improbable literalism, the Easter story expresses a profound psychological journey which passes through the devastating experience of loss to the joyous discovery of new life and meaning . That said, I want explain how it is possible to celebrate Easter apart from either supernatural or nature-based interpretations, i.e. how to appreciate Easter without myth.
Many times the role of a pastoral counselor is to point out and lift up spiritual concerns hidden by cultural or psychological trappings. At other times, it is to call to task errors and abuses of religion which have gone astray and become abusive of mental health or to help those who have suffered abuse from harmful religious practices or clergy misconduct to heal. The latter is the nature of our discussion today.
The recent murder of Asian women in Atlanta has brought attention to the growing number of attacks against Asian-Americans. There is another aspect of this slaughter, however, which must not be overlooked : the harmful influence of the alleged shooter’s religion. More specifically, I believe that the conservative church’s teachings about sex and women played a significant part in the murderer’s enraged emotional state . The church’s ignorant and outdated attitudes about…
This is an important announcement concerning upcoming possible insurance policy changes for those who are currently engaged in tele-therapy and who use medical insurance to pay for these services.
Even though there is encouraging news regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, with reports of dropping positivity rates, greater vaccine availability and expanded vaccination locations, the CDC and the President have made it clear that we are not yet out of the woods. Specifically, they have strongly warned against prematurely loosening COVID-19 precautions for things such as social distancing, wearing masks and avoiding being in indoor, non-ventilated settings for more than fifteen minutes.
Despite the persistence of the COVID-19 threat and the repeated warnings from federal agencies and officials, New York’s government has been…
I don’t understand why but, recently, the number of sexless marriages reported by the couples I see is on the rise. Indeed, this lack of physical intimacy has becoming a major source of concern and even results in divorce for those who do not seek help. Having checked national statistics , as of 2019 as many as 15 to 20% of marriages surveyed are sexless. (A sexless marriage is one in which the couple reports having sex less than once a month,) This statistic is shocking because , as little as ten years ago, only 2 to 5 % of marriages were classified as sexless. In addition, one wonders if the stressful effects of COVID-19 has made the percentage even higher.
Typically, there are always some couples who don’t have sex from time to time. The most common reasons married people abstain are obvious. Stress from work, marital conflicts, exhaustion from raising children and work as well as…
Depending on your romantic situation, Valentine’s Day can mean dramatically different things. For lovers and happily married folks, it can be a joyful time to reflect on and express love and affection for one another.
However, this media-hyped day can be an excruciating and heartbreaking time for folks who have lost, are without partners or who are in the midst of relational strife or divorce. Indeed, the plight of those who are lonely can be overlooked and ignored in the wake of the red-hearted deluge of the holiday.
We need to remember that, for these folks, Valentine’s Day is at best awkward and at worst a painful reminder of loneliness, frustration, disappointment and loss. Beyond the pain of being without or losing a loving partner is the destructive impact on one’s self-esteem . Unfortunately, partner-less and divorcing folks often blame themselves for their lack of romantic success and see themselves as defective or so damaged that they will always be alone.
While some folks do suffer from emotional issues which make sustaining intimate relationships difficult or problematic, that is not the case for most. If you are bummed out on Valentine’s Day, here are some questions and tips to help you better understand the mystery of romance and improve your odds for finding love.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, our attention naturally turns to thoughts of love and romance. Ironically, despite all of the media hype advertisers place on it, many folks (especially women) report that real romance is in short supply in their relationships. The stress and restrictions imposed by COVID-19 have made matters even worse. That said, now is a good time to talk about romance and desire because there is good news for folks who want to rekindle their passion.
Kissing is one of the most often overlooked and undervalued gestures which will evoke romantic feelings between lovers. While couples report that they still kiss, they also report that kissing often has become almost perfunctory and has lost a lot of its pizazz. This observation leads us to the title of this blog post: The Five Second Kiss.
Doing more kissing for at least five seconds is a simple change that couples can do which will increase the amount of romance ( and mostly likely sex) in their relationship. Once you give this a try, you will be amazed what a big difference such a simple thing like taking a little longer to kiss makes. It’s also great to learn that, for healthy relationships, even though romance has been neglected in the past, it’s never too late to get it back. If you have a romance deficit and want to improve but aren’t sure what to do or feel a little awkward getting started , know that breaking the ice is the hardest part. Here are some tips to help you get started.
For more recent and past Mental Health postings, visit our Blog archive.