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Going Unplugged … Together!

August 21, 2019

Can you imagine what would happen between you and your significant other if you spent 3-4 hours together without a device?  Unplugged?  Perhaps you already do this, but it seems like more and more often I hear of couples who are not really taking the time to put their devices aside for some REAL quality time.

Now imagine setting a night to do this once a week!  Bam.  Intimacy is more likely to happen.  Real love – emotional and physical is more likely to occur.

Just like our kids need eyeball breaks and breaks from screen time, so do adults…

What would you do while unplugged?  What would you say to one another? Would you look into each other’s eyes for longer than just a glance?

Would you pull out scrabble and make some popcorn?

Or sit on your front porch barefoot and dream about your bucket list?

Perhaps you might even end up staring at each other and then making out….

I was recently working with a couple where the husband complained that even when the kids go to bed and he and his wife could have quality time, his wife goes on her phone and he feels that this is not conducive to having a connection.  Understandably, his wife has been with the kids all day and wants to just indulge in some candy crush or Instagram, but still…

His wife said, “what would we do together?”  It was as if the couple had not been unplugged in a while, so this was a novel idea…

If you haven’t had a few hours unplugged lately, it might seem challenging at first… but the rewards are there to be had.  Not just for your EYEBALLS, but for your HEARTS and your relationship connection.

Maybe you are nervous about what you will do together.  I suggest you have a box in your house where you can each put ideas of things you could do together during your Weekly Night Unplugged.

I would always suggest that you each tell the other a couple of things you appreciate about each other from the previous week and give each other a good neck or foot rub.  If you need some conversation starters or some other ideas to spice things up, you can try downloading the Gottman Card Deck by going to your App Store.

But don’t stay on the App!  Just write down your ideas before your Unplugged Time and then enjoy looking at each other and trying out your new ideas, – no looking at your device allowed 🙂

You are fortunate to have a mate, a partner, a significant other.  I hope you can see their unique beauty and focus on it.

For more ideas on how to improve your relationship connection and communication, we would love for you to schedule an appointment with one of our Relationship Repair Associates.

Back to School Bullies

August 20, 2019

It’s that time of year when some of my younger clients are getting anxious about Back to School.  Especially the children who have been traumatized by bullying…

then retraumatized when school officials do not take actions to restore feelings of trust and safety within the victim.

I went to a Discussion Group on July 9 through Howard County Public Schools about their policies and procedures for bullying.  In my opinion, the current policies are not restorative and are unjust to victims – and they need to be changed for our children to be safe in school to learn.

During the July 9 discussion group, at my table was a mother whose child was in elementary school.  He had been physically assaulted many times by the same child in his classroom.  The same bully who had targeted him with physical aggression also made numerous verbal threats to harm the child.  The teacher in the classroom showed concern about the child who was aggressive and that the other classmates should try to be patient and understanding of his “emotional issues.”  The bully was never suspended or expelled, nor was he required to go to a specialized school for children with emotional or behavioral disturbances.  The bully and the bully’s family never had to apologize to the victim or the victim’s parents.  Nor was the victim or the victim’s parents advised as to if or what disciplinary action was taken to rectify the problem.

The victim’s family on the other hand went through many inconveniences.  Because their child was scared and traumatized, they started the victim in weekly therapy.  The child is now moving to a new school to get a fresh start away from the bully; however, the school system would not allow the sibling to move with him… so now the parents of the victim must drive their children to two separate schools.  Meanwhile, the bully goes merrily to his same school with no public consequence.

After the mass shootings that happened early in August in Ohio and Texas, the former Secretary of Education went on the news.  I heard him say that many public-school systems are so concerned about lawsuits that they have minimized suspending and expelling children with behavioral and emotional problems.  There are also not safeguards to report violent behaviors so that children with aggression will receive help until they can return to school in a safe manner.  

There is no place for violence in our schools, and if we tolerate physical and mental violence with no public consequence what makes us think that it won’t escalate into worse violence in our society – including mass shootings?

The problem with how our school system is failing to respond to violent behaviors in the classroom is that other children in the classroom are not able to feel physically or emotionally safe in the classroom.  Why should taxpayers whose children are behaving properly have to deal with ongoing problems with bullying and an unsafe environment for their child, possibly to the point of even needing to move schools, seeking trauma therapy, and other intervention?

Meanwhile, there is no public consequence to the child who is displaying aggression!

This is so backwards it is difficult to comprehend!

Another problem is that the bully in many cases is publicly harassing the victim in front of the class or on social media.  The victim of bullying is publicly shamed.

However, when HCPSS does an investigation the disciplinary action is kept confidential not only from the public, but even from the victim and the victim’s family.  How can there be any sense of justice for the victim?  I have had many clients who have been in this boat – and I myself have sat in this boat with my own children… and it is a terrible feeling.

I sent an email to the school superintendent on July 9 with numerous suggestions for change and a request to meet with the superintendent.  However, I have not received any communication as to what changes (if any) will be implemented as a result of my email.  I will be going to a Board of Education Meeting on September 19, 2019 to begin public addressing these mental health concerns in our community.

In the meanwhile, I will be sending out a public survey to get your opinions as to what changes should be made within our Maryland Public Schools when it comes to mental and physical bullying and aggression in our schools.

Bottom Line: Children who are aggressive need mental health help outside of our regular public schools while the children who are in school are emotionally and physically safe to learn!



Darn, That Feels Good!

August 19, 2019

As part of my own self-care, I went to see my therapist this morning.  Yes, you heard that right!  Part of the ethics code for a therapist is to see their own therapist when going through life transitions.

I haven’t been to see my own therapist for about five years… And, afterwards I thought, “Darn, That Feels Good!”

I was able to talk about what I wanted to talk about for a whole hour 😊

It reminded me of the power of a therapeutic conversation.  Two people face to face – one giving emotional, spiritual guidance and love to the other.   It’s not that we don’t have healing conversations at other times in our life with our friends and family.

But this is different – partly because you can completely rely on it.  You know that person is going to be there for you to listen – they aren’t going to start getting caught up in their own problems and their own life and forget to give you emotional support.  You don’t have to worry that they might get triggered or hurt or angry with you…

And then there are the therapy goals.  I defined my current goals.  They are notably different than when I went to therapy in my 20’s and 30’s.  Every developmental life stage is different…

Achieving goals and personal change is part of therapy.

So, here’s my question to you?

If you are going through stuff without a therapist (and you probably are), what’s holding you back from getting started?  If you think there are financial or scheduling barriers, maybe you could try completing our Online Registration Form – we will get back to you with a quote regarding cost as well as some available times that might just work with your schedule!  Perhaps the barriers are not what you think…

If you do have a therapist, are you making progress towards your goals?

If not, I would suggest you have a conversation with your therapist and re-visit your goals as well as what your next steps are to achieve them.  Don’t let your therapist off the hook!

Or yourself for that matter!

You deserve to work towards personal success – whatever that looks like for you.  Everyone needs time in their life to receive listening, support, and love.

Welcome to Our New Relationship Repair Associate, Dr. Rita Johnson, LCPC

August 14, 2019

We are happy to announce our new Relationship Repair Associate is Dr. Rita Johnson, LCPC, NCC, CCMHC, ACS

Dr. Rita is accepting clients in Upper Marlboro with convenient times on Friday afternoons and evenings 3:00 pm – 8:00 pm as well as Sunday afternoons 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm.

Rita is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor specializing in various support for mental health concerns and family relationships! She provides TLC!  TLC depicts Thrive, Live, Conquer. Thrive beyond obstacles, Live your best life, Conquer life’s challenges…

Please read more about Ms. Johnson and her new practice in Upper Marlboro.  You can contact her directly with questions at

Best of Howard County Nomination Ballot

August 13, 2019

We appreciate your continued support always.  This year there are new procedures for the Best of Howard County ballot! We must be nominated and win the nomination phase to be put on the official ballot in September. Please help us get there by following the simple steps below.
Step 1: Click hereto take you to the nomination screen. You must then scroll down to the “Therapist/Counselor” section and type in “Dr. Stephanie’s Relationship Repair Shop.”  Also, please consider typing in “Capital Women’s Care” for OB/GYN since we have a location affiliated with CWC.
You can vote once per day until August 16th to help us get on the ballot! 
Step2: Be on the lookout for a second email in early September if we make it on the ballot about how to vote and help us win!
We thank you for everything you do as clients to help our business continue to thrive!
(If you cannot get the above link to work, visit our facebook page or go directly to Howard Magazine’s website and click nominate your favorites. Therapist/Counselor is under the Health and Wellness section!)
Our Therapist Associates Have Specialized Training in Couples Therapy

August 2, 2019

Dr. Stephanie Knarr, LCMFT is a Certified Gottman Couples Therapist

Terrie Tyrie, LCPC has completed Gottman Level 1 Couples Therapy Training

Tyra Berger, LGPC has completed Gottman Level 1 Couples Therapy Training

Gail Bowles, LGPC has completed Imago Level 1 Couples Therapy Training and is certified in PREPARE/ENRICH

Sophia Rizvi, LGPC has completed Gottman Level 1 Couples Therapy Training

Chana Johnson, LGPC has completed Gottman Level 1 Couples Therapy Training and has also completed Relationship Life Therapy Level 1

Family Vacation Mindset

July 31, 2019

I do not call the annual summer family trip a family vacation.

Why?  Because it is not really a vacation for the parents.   The purpose of the family trip is to make memories and take pictures and have time together as a family for “family bonding.”

My husband and I recently took the children on a family trip to Niagara Falls.  We had a great time, and we all did some sightseeing and had adventures in a new location.  We took lots of pictures!  There were family conversations – and the trips are easier and smoother now that our children are 21, 17, and 8.

However, there were still plenty of family moments!

Working out the kids arguing about who should decide on the next activity.  People getting grouchy while we tried to navigate the schedule and the logistics of getting to a tour.  Finding a restaurant that everyone could agree upon.

My husband and I had one disagreement that we had to open our Relationship Repair Counter to resolve.  Per usual it was how to react to something with the children.

I remember my parents used to have at least one argument on every family vacation and now I know why.  If I recall, my dad wanted to relax and put his feet up while my mom had accepted the trip was still going to be a lot of work.  Every time we plan a family trip, I have a yearning to get some rest like my Dad used to!  I get it.  The struggle is real…

People have these dreams and expectations for their family trip, and usually the parents have at least some yearning that they will get a vacation from their regular life.

Only to remember while on the family trip that there will not really be that many moments for actual rest and relaxation by the time you navigate getting everyone fed, lodged, clothed, packed and repacked, and get to whatever activities you are doing to create memories.

Not to mention you will need to work out whatever family issues come up along the way.  Fun times, my friend, fun times!

Recently, there have been lots of laughs in my office as people tell me they struggle with the idea of their upcoming family trip with the children.  They know it will be a lot of work to get everyone all packed up and go through the logistics of navigating their journey.

Parents of children young and old are sometimes yearning for a real vacation, which can include more time for napping, reading books, taking your time going places, spa treatments, and more.

If you are about to go on a family trip, try changing your mindset and accepting that although you are yearning for a vacation, you are not going to really have one.  Try to embrace the moment and each your precious family moment – you only live once! Expect you are likely to have at least one marital fight and be prepared to work through it…

Then plan a real vacation without the children as soon as they are old enough!

After two family trips during the past year and many family outings, I now have gone on a well-deserved bona fide vacation – no children – no parenting issues – no family moments.

Just time to rest, take naps, go running on the beach, drink fruity drinks with little umbrellas, and read books that have nothing to do with psychotherapy 😊.  My own version of paradise.

If you need to talk about problems that happened on your family trip (hopefully you don’t have any problems that occurred if you went on a real vacation), please Contact one of our Relationship Repair Associates right away!

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

July 30, 2019

By Terrie Tyrie, LCPC, Relationship Repair Associate

As parents we want our children to only pick up our good habits not our flawed habits. We want them to pick up our love of salads but not our sweet tooth.

One of the points I always stress in my parenting workshops is model the behavior you want from your child.

I see parents sitting with their families in restaurants checking their phones and not paying attention to their eight years old. What message is this giving their child about how important they are to the parent right now?

What happens five years later when the parent is trying to connect with their 13 years old over dinner and the teen gets a text? The teen will take out their phone to answer their friend and as a parent you will be the one that feels unimportant. Many parents then get angry at their teen for not showing them respect and take the teen’s phone away, when the parent is the one who should be punished for modeling the undesirable behavior.

As a parent we need to stop and be mindful of whether our actions are going to properly demonstrate how we want our child to behave as they become older. Try to imagine your child’s perspective of your actions and what it is saying to them. Your child needs you to be the model of behavior you want them to incorporate into who they are as an adult.

Many clients come into my office who are parents and want to reduce their anxiety.  I commend them for wanting to model to their children good mental health and self-care.

If you are unable to make the changes necessary to model good behaviors for your children, then I encourage you to get the help you need to make the change for them.  Please Contact one of our Relationship Repair Associates today for help with concerns you are having in your relationships with your child or teenager.



The Chore Wars Are Real!

July 29, 2019

Some recent sessions have reminded me how many problems stem from people feeling that there is not fairness when it comes to household chores.

One of my female clients recently discussed her frustration that her husband seems to feel much more able to “check out” – to go talk with a friend or a neighbor or to start going on social media – while she is doing the evening routine for the children and other household chores.

She described feeling she must “ask” for a break for some personal time, whereas he can just take his break.

Believe it or not, in some couples there is a role reversal.  I can think of specific clients wherein the wife is the one who spontaneously checks out for personal time while her husband feels the division of labor is unfair!

When I was in graduate school, I was taught that when it comes to equitable division of labor between partners the one thing to pay the most attention to is this:

After both paid and unpaid labor to support the household is finished – Do partners have a similar amount of time for rest, socialization, and personal time?

If one partner has almost no time for rest and personal time while the other partner has several hours per day or per week then this is a terrible division of labor.

With a recent couple, we have been working on balancing out the division of labor – and both partners asking each other for some personal time to “check out” – creating a team effort in which they are truly helping each other.  Everyone is working and contributing, except for agreed upon times for rest and personal time that are equitable.  This is the goal and the mission for your relationship.

And if you don’t have it, then it doesn’t matter how you have divided up the chores – it still is going to lead to resentment and conflict and a lack of intimacy between partners.

For more help figuring out your dilemmas with the division of labor in your household, please Contact a Relationship Repair Associate for a consultation appointment.

Welcome to Our Newest Associate Chana Johnson, M.S. LGPC

July 17, 2019

Chana Johnson is our newest associate!  She has recently completed her M.S. degree in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling and is now licensed in Maryland…

Chana’s Relationship Repair Shop will be located in Owings Mills, Maryland starting in September.   She is also currently accepting new clients at the Laurel location on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays.

Ms. Johnson has also completed Level 1 Gottman Couples Therapy Training and will continue to be supervised by Dr. Stephanie.

You can read more about Chana’s professional biography at

Chana Johnson, LGPC, NCC

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