Call or text (315) 380-1005 Rev. Heath Can Help!

For your convenience and safety, all counseling is provided via Tele-therapy.

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:

  • SEX / NO SEX

Telehealth Counseling

New York’s State of Emergency Ended as of June 24th 2021

As a result, all insurance co-pays, co-shares and deductibles for behavioral health services, which were previously suspended under the State of Emergency, will be reinstated. Please consult your insurance carrier for the details of your policy.

Despite this change, due to the increasing risk of the Delta variant, all counselling sessions will continue to be conducted via tele-therapy until further notice.

Latest Blog Articles

By Rev. Michael Heath



May is mental health awareness month.  This year I want to explain why some states are banning Gender Affirming Care (GAC) and expose the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing scam called Gender Explorative Therapy (GET).

To be clear from the get-go, GAC is a legitimate treatment for gender dysphoric young folk . GET is a religiously backed hoax which ignores medical science and is harmful to transgendered non-conforming (TGNC) youth .     

THE ISSUE   Under the misleading banner of protecting children, a number of conservative state legislatures have chosen to pass laws which  follow religious dogma rather than science. 

Opponents of GAC want it banned because they believe  gender dysphoric children, i.e. kids whose gender identity conflicts with the gender which was assigned at birth, is simply a transient emotional confusion and is not a real medical condition.  Thus, they view  the medical aspect of GAC such as puberty blocking drugs,  as not only unnecessary but also harmful.

In fact, the  effort to interfere with necessary medical treatment poses a real threat to the health and well being of gender dysphoric youngsters.

(Here is a link which lists the large number of medical/ professional organizations  which oppose both the laws banning GAC and GEC.

Even worse, the number of states banning GAC is growing. Here is a map which  shows states that are considering such legislation.

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Recent hospitalization and death statistics related to COVID-19 reveal that the pandemic’s medical threat has dramatically declined. Covid in the U.S.: Latest Maps, Case and Death Counts – The New York Times ( That said, other studies show that the pandemic, together with other factors,  has had a devastating impact on America’s mental health.  Rates of anxiety and depression have risen among all age groups and the number of people seeking counseling is sky-rocketing.
Experts believe that the cause of this  problem is complex and actually pre-dates COVID-19. Such things as the internet and 24/7 on-line and cable news as well as the omni presence of smart phones and social media have over-loaded our ability to process so much distressing information.   Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? – The Atlantic   In other words, it’s not just the alarming content of things like mass shootings or war but the non-stop bombardment of the reports which have created a mental health crisis.

Another crucial element exacerbating the problem is America’s poor level of self-care and trivialized attitude toward leisure.  Studies have shown that  our nation’s traditional hard-work-no time-for play ethic has interfered with our society’s ability to cope with stress. Not giving ourselves sufficient time to recharge has caught many Americans with dead emotional batteries. 

Despite various attempts to educate the public about the importance of self care, disdain for recreation persists. Evidence of this view is seen in Cadillac’s 2014 Super Bowl commercial. In it, a smarmy guy strolls around his pool extoling America’s superior work ethic over European’s who take so many vacations.

His message is that only by working hard can one afford to buy expensive cars.  Ironically, studies have shown that people who push too much and recreate too little are less productive.   Indeed, self-care is not a luxury or waste of time. Leisure is not only important for personal happiness and resilient mental health, it also is necessary for top performance.

In addition to being false, the hard work myth  creates a psychological problem.  The persistence in traditional attitude has caused many to develop a psychological condition that I would call Leisure Deficiency. 

Fortunately, leisure deficiency is treatable. Thus, today, I want to discuss 1) How this false belief arose, 2) How to tell if you suffer from leisure deficiency and 3) Why leisure is important and 4) What can be done to incorporate leisure into your regular routine.

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COVID and Public Mistrust

COVID and Public Mistrust

Last month marks three years since Covid-19 exploded in America and began devastating the world. Sadly, over this period trust in our public health officials and government agencies, like the Centers for Disease Control, has plunged.

Recently,  public health expert, Dr. Leana Wen, commented about the growing mistrust of science and public health policies. Her remarks deserve our attention.  She explained how the government’s messaging about COVID-19 created confusion and mistrust.  I would like to build on her remarks and explain the psychology of public misturst whichhas grown during the crisis. 

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One of the most common problems reported by couples, (not feeling listened to or heard),  can, with some practice, be fixed.  Learning to pay attention and truly be present with one’s partner is crucial for good communication in any relationship.  It is especially important in intimate ones.

Being present is especially challenging when what a person is expressing is negative, angry, fearful or discouraged feelings.  Rather than patiently listening, our natural inclination may be to change the subject, tune out or physically withdraw.  That’s because listening to intense negative emotion can trigger stressful feelings within us which make it difficult to respond rationally.

Men may have an even more difficult time with empathy because of their natural tendency is to solve problems and provide solutions.  While that might sound helpful, it often, isn’t. Offering premature solutions can be experienced as an interruption which stops the person from completing what they are trying to say.  

Many communication difficulties stems from a fundamental confusion  and oversimplification of why people talk to one another. Sometimes verbal communication is simple and direct. When you go to a bank and ask the teller for twenty dollars, the transaction is concrete. It doesn’t matter what either party is feeling as long as the teller correctly does what the customer asked.

Most human communications, however, are complex and take place on two levels: the concrete/literal level and the subtext/feeling level. What many couples don’t understand is that a connection on the feeling level must be made FIRST  before moving to the concrete or literal meaning of the words. 

Being there emotionally is what empathy and good communication is all about.  For example, imagine a wife comes home from an appointment with a new hair dresser and asks her husband , “What do you think ?”  

Although the sentence sounds like simple question, it isn’t.  Any man who thinks that it is will have a serious problem  on his hands.  In fact, the meta-level/emotional level expressed by her facial expressions, body language and voice tone reveals that what she is asking for is not his opinion but reassurance that the new stylist did not butcher her hair. t

In order for the husband to respond in a helpful way, he needs to give her his full attention.  Here are some tips to help you improve your empathy skills, assist you in being a better listener and be more fully present in conversations

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Mindfullness Psycotherapy

Mindfullness Psycotherapy

Recently I was explaining my therapeutic approach to a new client .  When I mentioned that one of the goals of therapy was to increase mindfulness, she interrupted and said that she was not "into" yoga!    While mindful meditation is a part of the practice of yoga, the importance of mindfulness extends much further. The meaning of mindfulness has evolved from its association with meditation into therapeutic point of view  which promotes expanding one's awareness.  In addition to broadening the horizon of one's consciousness, mindfulness also explains the inter-connections between bodily sensations, emotions, thoughts , trauma from the past and present stressors . The Mindfulness Movement | Skeptical Inquirer Another important feature of mindfulness is self-monitoring or keeping an eye on the various aspects of our conscious experience. Self-monitoring helps people be more present and...

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Intimate Communication

Intimate Communication

Valentine’s Day is all about expressing love and creating romance; but, not for everyone.  While these are a high-priority concerns for those who are in new relationships, many folks who have been married for a while have a different experience. 

Many report that, although getting together sexually was never a problem in the beginning, over time things changed. The addition of kids, busy schedules and familiarity would often interfere with spontaneous exciting rendezvouses. 

As a result, occasions like Valentine’s Day can be awkward and stressful for couples who have not learned how to communicate their intimate desires and carve out time for intimacy. For others, Valentine’s Day serves simply to reveal that a couple’s sexual routines have gone stale and fallen into a rut. What was once new and exciting can become predictable and ho-hum.   

One reason for this dilemma is that the fact that many couples take sex for granted and assume that having good sex in marriage just happens naturally. In fact, it does not.  Sustaining good sex in marriage takes planning, good communication and novelty.   

An essential factor for good sexual communication is clear sexual messaging. Sadly, many couples are uncomfortable revealing their desires.  Likewise, little attention has been paid to help couples overcome obstacles such as embarrassment which inhibit talking freely and honestly about sex.   

Today I want to offer some suggestions to help couples improve their intimate communication and create fresh and comfortable sexual signals.

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Why Romance Matters

Why Romance Matters

As Valentine’s Day approaches, the media will flood us with all sorts of romantic hype and I’m glad.  Frankly, many couples, who have been together for a while, suffer from a romance deficit. So today I want to talk about why romance is so important and essential for lasting and satisfying intimate relationships.

Unfortunately, even though marital therapists realize the importance of romance, many couples don’t. When asked, however, most partners say that they would like more of it in their relationship.

Sadly, many suffer from erroneous beliefs about romance. For example, many falsely believe that, once the romantic spark is gone, it’s gone for good with no way to get it back. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to rekindle romantic feelings and restore passionate excitement to your marriage.

Given all of the misinformation surrounding romance and desire, here are the facts as well as some tips for increasing it in your relationship :

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Santos and the Truth

Santos and the Truth

The long list of George Santos’ resume lies seems unending. They are an ongoing fountain of material for comedians and meme creators as well as being a huge source of amusement for Democrats.

Beyond its entertainment value, however, the George Santos debacle raises questions about the psychology of one who seems almost incapable of telling the truth.  What causes one to compulsively lie ?  While this is a complicated question that can’t be answered here, let’s clear up some of the confusion which exists about the phenomenon of lying in general:

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Goal 2023: Self-Care

Goal 2023: Self-Care

Happy New Year !  For millions, the start of a new year is the time for making resolutions, i.e. things that folks resolve to do to improve their lives.  Losing weight, exercising more and stopping smoking perennially top the most mentioned goals. BABY STEPS : An Effective Way to Approach Your New Year’s Resolutions. — | Pastoral Counseling Syracuse NY (

While all worthy endeavors, this year, I suggest that your efforts be about improving your mental health by focusing on self-care/mindfulness.  Indeed, recent studies reveal that, due to the stress of COVID, political tension and other uncertainties, our mental health has declined.

The key to improving self-care is to appreciate its importance and to make it a priority.  Unfortunately, wellness-mindfulness is sometimes misunderstood. It’s often seen as just another resolution that one knows that they should do but really don’t want to do. Resistance to self-care is often due the fact that it is externally imposed, e.g., a doctor’s recommendation to lose weight.

Pursuing healthy mindfulness often feels like having to endure deprivation of something you like or engaging in an unpleasant activity, e.g. giving up favorite foods or engaging in painful or boring activities.

A better way of looking at self-care is to view it as a commitment to one’s well-being. It’s the practice of “taking an active role in protecting one’s own physical and emotional well-being and happiness, particularly during periods of stress ” “What is self-care? | Global Self-Care Federation (

When seen this way, being good to yourself avoids the resistance and resentment of an externally imposed demand. Self-care becomes a freely made choice to ay attention to things that promote our health and make our lives easier. 

Here are some commonly asked questions to help you get started improving your self-care:  What does self-care involve?  What keeps us from taking better care of ourselves? 3) What can help you to improve your self-care?

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For more recent and past Mental Health postings, visit our Blog archive.