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:

  • 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

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

Grieving’s 6th Step

Grieving’s 6th Step

I’ve noticed that, as we start the new year in the midst of COVID, many folks are struggling with loss and grieving.  For some, the loss involves the death of family members or loved ones. For others, it has meant the loss of financial security. And, for others, COVID has meant the frustrations encountered in the loss of normalcy.

For many, the words grief and grieving are synonymous with the name Kubler-Ross and the five stages of grief.  Five Stages Of Grief – Understanding the Kubler-Ross Model (psycom.net)  What you might not be aware of are the important developments in grief research which have taken place over the past 40 years since Kluber-Ross’s publication.  This research has significantly advanced our understanding of the grieving process and revealed that there is yet another stage of the recovery process.

One important discovery explains how the grieving process ends. Rather than finishing with the 5th stage of acceptance, research has shown that folks who have reported successfully recovering from serious loss have reported finding a new purpose in their life which has given rise to hope and joy about the future.

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PLAN B for Lower Stress

PLAN B for Lower Stress

As we begin 2022, many turn their thoughts making new year’s resolutions. Helpful tips for making resolutions can be found everywhere, in special news reports, internet blogs and in the self-help section of bookstores.  7 Proven Steps to Set Achievable Resolutions – Life Leaders Institute    Indeed, over the years, I have also offered advice to help folks stick to their resolutions. Getting Real about New Year’s Resolutions: Some things to think about before making one. | Pastoral Counseling Syracuse NY (revmichaelheath.com)  Today, however, due to COVID and other stressors, which have made 2021 so difficult and anxiety filled, I want to talk about a stress management/anxiety-lowering approach called Plan B. 

Feeling anxious is sometimes unavoidable. There is some stress which can’t be avoided because some aspects of life are out of our control,  However, even when things happen which are out of your control, it is possible, with some practice , to reduce our level of anxiety. Expectations, for example, are something that we can control and adjust with a little reflection.  When traveling unexpected problems like cancelled flights or rooms not being ready can cause emotional distress, if one, unrealistically, expects that things will go perfectly without a hitch.  Understanding how our brain reacts to surprises and having a Plan “B” to turn to when frustrations occur can dramatically lower our experience of anxiety. Here’s how it works:

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The Holiday Blues

The Holiday Blues

Let’s face it, for many folks, the holidays can be difficult.  Given the media pressure to be happy, it is tough to be blue during the holidays. Amid the hustle and bustle of Hanukkah and Christmas hype there are many folks for whom the season is not joyous or bright.  Adding to the normal strain, is the latest surge of COVID-19 and the new Omicron variant.

Although many of us look forward to Christmas as a time for gifts and to celebrate family and friends, there are many others for whom the occasion is difficult and even painful. Death , divorce, financial troubles , loneliness , depression and failing health are but a few of the reasons which keep many folks from experiencing the full joy of the holiday.  

While we can’t always make things all better when we encounter someone who is blue, being aware of his or her plight can help us to be more sensitive and compassionate in our interactions with them.  
It is important to remember that what folks who are blue really need during this painful time is empathy and understanding. Here are some tips to help you improve your empathy skills and to show more kindness and sensitivity to those you meet during this holiday season :

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Self-Care and Protecting Marital Boundaries

Self-Care and Protecting Marital Boundaries

Recently, the news has been filled by reports of sexual-boundary violations committed by politicians and other celebrities. Having just participated in a continuing education seminar on maintaining professional boundaries   it is clear that a major factor in preventing problems is monitoring and attending to personal self-care.

Upon reflection, the same wisdom which applies to business and professional settings is also for marriages.  Sexual boundaries are more likely to be crossed when a partner is not fully aware of or attending to his/her self-care needs.  Couples who become more aware of and address their intimacy needs can better protect their marital boundaries and remain faithful.

While I have written many articles about fidelity and repairing the damage caused to marriage by infidelity, I now want to talk about : 1) What self-care is and how poor self-care increases the risk of infidelity and other boundary violations. and 2) Provide some essential tips for good self-care.

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REDUCING TURKEY-DAY STRESS

REDUCING TURKEY-DAY STRESS

Although we like to think that getting together for Thanksgiving is as wonderful at this Norman Rockwell painting, most of us know that it is not.  Unfortunately, for many folks, these events can be quite stressful. Longstanding interpersonal conflicts and struggles over old grudges, politics or religion can spoil even the most perfectly planned events. 

As if family gatherings weren’t difficult enough,  Covid-19, has added yet another layer of problems with which we have to deal. That said, it is important to take time, to step back and to appreciate and experience the blessings we have.

Here are some tips to avoid trouble and make this festive time more enjoyable and less anxiety ridden:

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FAITHFUL IS NOT ENOUGH

FAITHFUL IS NOT ENOUGH

Fidelity is the cornerstone of a happy and enduring marriage.  Nonetheless, since so many marriages are plagued with infidelity, knowing how to survive a breach and regain trust is a vital skill. 

Sadly, many couples are without a clue.  Many who have strayed are surprised to learn that, after an affair, being faithful is not enough to fix the relationship.  Ironically,  folks who come for treatment, who had stopped cheating, often express frustration and discouragement. They admit that they simply don’t know what else to do besides not cheating to win back their spouse. 

Here is what they learned: Besides fidelity, there are three keys to rebuilding trust after an affair:1) Empathy, 2) Mindfulness and 3) Honesty.  Let’s look at each more closely: 

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The Paradox of Fear

The Paradox of Fear

This year, as Halloween is getting back to normal, instead of being consumed by our fears of COVID-19, we can step back, reflect and think about our fascination with scary things. Of particular interest is the paradox  between our enjoyment of being scared by unreal threats, on the one hand, and our avoidance and denial of real threats on the other.

We celebrate and enjoy horror movies and other things which can temporarily scare us. Yet , as we have seen in the large number of people who reject science and remain unvaccinated or refuse to wear masks or take other reasonable precautions to prevent contracting or spreading the coronavirus.  Sadly, many Americans deny the reality and the severity of COVID-19.  Although counter-intuitive, psychology can explain, at least in part , why this strange contradiction exists. 

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Domestic Violence Month

Domestic Violence Month

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. So, lets talk about some things that every one should know about it:  What it is? How common is it ?  How to spot it. What to do about it.  How to prevent it.

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A New-Romance Checklist

A New-Romance Checklist

As more and more people are receiving COVID vaccinations, folks who have held back from dating due to the pandemic are beginning to loosen up and get out and about. Whether complicated by the pandemic or not, getting to know a new person romantically can be anxiety producing. Most people can spot a bad date and not repeat.  But,  after a few good dates, folks wonder and worry if the person who seems so nice, initially, will turn out to be as good as they first appeared.  Indeed, there is a need for a new-romance checklist to help couples know if a new relationships can last.

Conceptually, knowing if a new relationship is workable is not complicated.  Good relationships develop when both individuals have matured enough to get beyond individual selfishness and are able to commit to becoming a partnership.  When looked at from this perspective it is possible to list fundamental skills and abilities which are necessary to sustain a satisfying relationship and reveal the needed level of maturity. Here is a check-list of behaviors to look for when your are out on a date.  You can use this list  to evaluate  whether it is likely that  your new relationship has a future. No relationship is perfect or checks all of the boxes but the good must out weigh the bad. For those who have decided that they want to be together, the list can help identify problem areas which will need to be addressed if the fledgling relationship is to thrive. Here is a partial check-list of essential characteristics to look for in your new romance :

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