Call 315.637.0605 Rev. Heath Can Help!
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.

Serving the people of Central New York since 1978!

Latest Blog Articles

By Rev. Michael Heath

BREAKING THE ICE: How to Deepen Marital Intimacy through Better Sexual Communication.

BREAKING THE ICE: How to Deepen Marital Intimacy through Better Sexual Communication.

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.

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 as Psychological Metaphor: The Resurrection of Hope and Meaning.

Easter as Psychological Metaphor: The Resurrection of Hope and Meaning.

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.

The Atlanta Shooter and Psychologically Harmful Religion.

The Atlanta Shooter and Psychologically Harmful Religion.

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…

TIME IS RUNNING OUT: EXTEND THE NEW YORK STATE OF EMERGECNY ORDER, NOW !

TIME IS RUNNING OUT: EXTEND THE NEW YORK STATE OF EMERGECNY ORDER, NOW !

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…

Hope and Understanding for Sexless Marriages.

Hope and Understanding for Sexless Marriages.

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…

Alone on Valentine’s Day : Looking at your Outlook on Love

Alone on Valentine’s Day : Looking at your Outlook on Love

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.

For more articles, visit our Blog archive.

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Anger Management

Pornography/Alcohol / Substance Abuse

Couples Counseling

Realistic Expectations

Conflict Resolution

Poor Communication

Sex

Infidelity

Recovery from Affairs

Lack of Desire

Sexless Marriage 

Pornography

Sexual Abuse

Lack of Desire

Separation / Divorce

Parenting Issues

In-law/Family Problems

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