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

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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Inaccurate Self-Esteem

Inaccurate Self-Esteem

The problem of low self-esteem  ( LSE) has been around for many years. In fact, LSE has almost become a psychological cliche which in some ways is misunderstood.

Nonetheless, having a poor self-image can cause a number of emotional and relational problems.  

Today I want to clarify, refocus and define the problem of low-self-esteem as one stemming from a distorted/inaccurate perception of self.  In doing so, I want to step back and explain  1) Why having a positive self-image is so important , 2) The basic components of a positive self-image and 3) How self-esteem is damaged.

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Christianity, Sex & Shame

Christianity, Sex & Shame

Recently, I wrote about the problem of false guilt and shame which can interfere with a person’s ability to think clearly and relate rationally to others.  False Guilt and Shame | Pastoral Counseling Syracuse NY (

Today I want to talk about shame and guilt about sex and the major source of these destructive feelings, i.e.  traditional religious teachings about sex and pleasure.  Over the centuries, traditional Roman Catholic and Protestant doctrines have caused of a lot of needless stress.  And, as hard as it is to believe, they continue to be a source of pain for many.

From a psychological point of view, traditional Christian beliefs viewed normal sexual feelings to be in conflict with God’s law and, therefore, sinful.  Thus, lacking positive teachings about sex, natural desires evoked feelings of sinfulness and even self-hatred. 

Those who suffer with this conflict need to know that this antipathy was not always the case.  It is important to understand the evolution of Christian thought and how the delights of sex found in Song of Solomon were squelched and replaced with negative views.

While complex, two major developments are largely responsible for this change:  1) apocalyptic expectations. and 2) The disappointment of those expectations experienced by the delay of the Jesus’ 2nd coming (the Parousia). Let me explain,

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The Internet and Addiction

The Internet and Addiction

I recently wrote about how the advent of internet pornography had made raising children much more difficult for parents. ON PORN AND PARENTING | Pastoral Counseling Syracuse NY (   

Today, I want to discuss how frequent internet activity triggers dopamine release in the brain and may lead to addiction. Specifically, I will explain how excessive time on a smart-phone use can hook its unsuspecting users .

Although addiction is an age-old problem, smart-phone technology presents a new risk .  Research has confirmed the problem that parents and unhappy spouses have struggled with for years: How to get members of their family to put their phones down?

To better grasp the risk that smart phones pose for addiction we need to understand 1) Some basic neuro-chemistry.  Particularly how dopamine creates addictive behaviors. 2) How folks can become addicted to their smart phones. 3) How to tell if someone is addicted to their phone. and 4) Successful treatment strategies for smart-phone addiction.

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Few would disagree that omnipresent internet pornography harms children and poses a difficult challenge for parents. That said, many who oppose it don’t understand the real damage that it does.  Worse, many of the common approaches exacerbate the problem or interfere with open communication .

Although internet porn has been around for over twenty-five years, we are now just beginning to understand how it impacts a child’s social and psychological development. To be clear, internet porn is more difficult to deal with than pornography from an earlier era. The Impact of Internet Pornography on Adolescents: A Review of the Research: Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: Vol 19, No 1-2 (

In response, I want to examine the problem and provide some help for parents. Specifically, I want to:
— Explain why internet pornography is different from earlier X-rated materials.
— Dispel some common myths about pornography.
— Clarify how internet pornography is harmful for young children and teens.
— Debunk popular approaches to dealing with porn which do not work. and
— Offer a rational approach for teaching children about porn on the internet.

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