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Joe
Professional Counselor, PhD student, part-time writer, full-time Dad and Husband
Interests: Italian food, cooking, movies, writing, sports, books, baseball, umpires
Recent Activity
This video deals with my history of sexual assault at the hands of someone in my neighborhood and the different reactions I've encountered over the years in trying to bring the conversation to light. Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2017 at Joe Martino
This webpage will go active with details about the upcoming Hopes and Dreams Marriage Retreat, in Feb of 2018 very soon. Check back on 11/13/17. If you'd like to register for the conference or get more information, please call 616.481.3784 Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2017 at Retreat
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Here is my fourth YouTube offering. In this video, I explore the three steps for problem solving. So many couples get into trouble in their conversation because they end up trying to go directly to step #3. Watch the video below and let me know what you think. Thanks. Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2017 at Joe Martino
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I often meet people who tell me about their wishes. Sometimes, they call these wishes goals and I call them wishes. They want to do this thing they're talking about.... ......build a business ......start a non-profit .......go back to school .....write a novel ......get healthier ....do something they are not currently doing. When I ask them what is keeping them from doing the thing they want to be doing, I usually hear one of two things. Sometimes, I hear both. "I don't have the time," they say with dour seriousness. "I don't have the resources," gets expressed with equal chagrin. I often push back and ask them how important their wish is to them. They often tell me that it's really important. I will ask them how important again and they will express some agitation at me asking the same question a second time. I often tell them that I find that question to be the most important because I believe that people do what they want to do when they want to do it. I often find that people fail at starting something new because they are unwilling to say no to something that they are currently doing but find unsatisfying. You want to have a family? Well, that's going to impact the amount of times you can hang out with your "bros". You want to get healthier? Well, that's going to force you to change your eating, and sleep habits. You want to have an intimate relationship? Well,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2017 at Joe Martino
"We need to improve our communication." Sarah* When I asked her what that meant, she told me that she and her husband Ryan needed to be able to talk in a way that didn't lead to stress between them. I followed that question up with what made her think that their communication needed improvement. Ryan jumped in, "Because we get frustrated and mad with each other!" "But what if that's good?" I replied. And we had to end the session by calling the ambulance as they both broke their jaws on the floor at the idea that a therapist could think frustration and conflict was a good thing. (I kid). I still believe this to be true. In fact, I think we can figure out how intimate we are with someone based on how much conflict we wade through with them. I know some people will be and are put off by the idea that friendships can be put into levels but I am uncertain how else to process what is the difference. Level 1. The "Not Really" relationship. This friendship is someone that you wouldn't honestly avoid at all cost if you could do so. When you're in the grocery store and see them in aisle three, you head to aisle nine. But if you they double back on you and your paths cross in aisle seven, you'll give the polite nod and greet mumbling something about the weather or another inane aspect of life. Level 2. The "Sort... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2017 at Joe Martino
Recently a friend of mine had a firestorm of conversation erupt on a post she made on social media. Few of the contributors stopped to consider what lens they were using to understand the post and how that was impacting their statements. While there were many words, there was little communication. Watch this video to learn a tool that will help you to avoid the trap of many words and little communication. Understanding what is going on in your own brain and emotions will help you be a better communicator. Related articles It's not what happens, it's how we attach meaning that matters Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2017 at Joe Martino
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I consistently run into people who dislike their life Usually with a passion. And yet, they make zero changes. They do the same things over and over again. As if their life is written out for them and no matter what they attempt, they are stuck living a life they hate. This is patently false. We, you and I can always change our life. The problem is that change is often hard Change is often very painful. Even desired change. Most people resist that pain choosing rather to wallow in the pain that they are familiar with over the potential pain that they do not know. This resistance to pain of any kind becomes muscle memory and it simply becomes easier to avoid it. But this resistance to pain comes at a new price. The person becomes stuck in their life that they hate. But stuck is the wrong word because it implies some sort of outside force keeping them from achieving their desired outcome. Most of the time, the outside force is us. There are three simple questions everyone must ask of themselves if they want to experience change. What do I want? This is the most basic question. What do I really want? Often we want competing things. That is to say, we often want things that cancel each other out. We want to be heroic but face zero danger. We want to spend money indiscriminately and grow our savings account. This is why we need to make... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2017 at Joe Martino
This video is from my YouTube page regarding ways every conversation can be improved. Conversations about conflict can be hard, and this won't make them easier, but it will give help you make it more productive. Watch it and let me know what you think. Related articles It's not what happens, it's how we attach meaning that matters Points to Ponder (Life Lessons Style) Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2017 at Joe Martino
When my daughter Kendra was in the second grade, she came home daily complaining about a little boy in her class that was mean to her. I just listened and did not offer much feedback until one day she told me the boy broke a chair over her back. I was infuriated! However, I knew that my anger was not going to stop this boy. Instead, I asked Kendra to tell me why she thought this young man was so angry. She said she did not know. I began to ask her questions about his life. Soon she was able to put the pieces together. The young man's parents had recently gotten divorced. He switched homes every few days and Kendra was a happy kid with a stable home. This young man envied what she had. I noticed that the conversation between Kendra and I had helped her no longer feel powerless and frustrated. In fact, I did not anticipate what she did next. The next day when I picked her up from school she told me she stood up to this boy and he started crying. I was a little nervous at this point. What exactly did she do? She told me she looked him right in the eye and said “I know why you are so angry. You're tired of going back and forth between homes and you hate it that your parents got divorced, but guess what? I am not the one who has hurt you and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2017 at Erica Martino
This morning, on the way to school, my daughter Kaidance, was telling me how this girl in her grade, who she has had trouble with since elementary school, still hates her and makes mean comments to her every day. She tells Kaidance she is ugly, that her hair is frizzy and tries to cut in front of her in lines. What I love is that Kaidance will not tolerate it! The school motto for dealing with bullies is "Be a buddy not a bully, just walk away." Our family motto for bullying is to fight back! No, I don't want my kids to get in physical altercations, nor do I want them to be unkind, I do want them to use their wit and confidence to cause the bully to stand down. Kaidance told me when she will not let the girl cut in line, the girl ramps up the intensity by asking her why her hair is so frizzy or telling everyone she is ugly. No matter what the girls says or does Kaidance stands her ground and does not move. This infuriates the girl till she walks away! I get what the school is trying to do, bullying has become an epidemic and they are trying to give kids tools to deal with it but ignoring someone does not work! In my practice I see a lot of victims of domestic violence and abuse of all kinds. I never tell clients to just be a buddy to their... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2017 at Erica Martino
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This weekend my husband and I went to the Tim McGraw and Faith Hill concert. One of my favorite songs they sing is “It's your love”. It's your love, it just does something to me, it sends a shock right through me, I can’t get enough. If you wonder about the spell, I am under. It's your love. My entire family is under this spell from this man I call my husband and my children call dad. He loves us all fiercely. There is not a day that goes by that I am not overwhelmed with gratitude for him. He is determined and fights for good. As a therapist, I often see that being a good dad or husband is not modeled but one can always learn. My husband is a great one to learn from if you don’t know him then find someone you respect and model your life after them. Here are observations from watching my husband that will make anyone a good dad if they follow these tips. 1.Make sure your child knows your love in unconditional. My husband told me before my children were born that he would go out of his way to make sure they knew there was nothing they could do to cause him to love them more or less. He has drilled this in their heads! His love is unwavering and will not change, regardless of what they do. Work hard. When my husband and I met we barely had two nickels... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2017 at Erica Martino
I currently have a 30 days of mindful meditation group going that you can join by clicking on this link https://www.facebook.com/groups/286899935052609/. What is Guided Imagery? Guided Imagery is great for the visual learner. It invites participants to use their imagination to visit the most relaxing place they can imagine! It is just like daydreaming. Perhaps your “happy” place is on a sandy beach, feeling the sun beating down you, listening to the waves crash into the sand. Maybe it is sitting on a river bank listening to the trickling water hit the rocks. Wherever it is you find peace, relaxation, and comfort is where you should let your mind go while doing Guided Imagery. While you are immersed in your scene try to let your fives senses do the work, do you hear the waves crashing against the beach? Do you smell the fresh air and feel the sand on your skin? Do you taste the salty water? Stay here, in your happy place as long as you need to, when you're ready, leave your happy place and tell yourself you're going to enjoy the rest of your day. It's like returning from a mini vacation only, you never left the room. Guided Imagery helps reduce stress by calming your body so you can enjoy a few minutes of relaxation!! Did you also know it also helps create resiliency, reduces your chance of getting sick and aids in sleep? You should try it and tell me how it goes. (Don’t... Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2017 at Erica Martino
Did you know that according to the National Institute of Mental Health (2015) that 350 million people across the globe struggle with depression? Depression is often viewed as a deliberating feeling that often leaves you in bed. Here are 10 ways to recognize if you or someone you love is depressed. 1. You are in chronic pain. Pain can be unbearable and hard to deal with especially if the cause has not been discovered or a cure, treatment option or pain management is not available. Untreated, prolonged pain can cause depression because the pain is sent through the spinal cord to the Cerebral Cortex. The Cerebral Cortex then assigns meaning to the pain based on current or previous social and personal experiences. 2. You have an eating disorder. Individuals who eat too little or too much could suffer from depression. Often times the feelings of guilt, shame and fear take over when a person eats, leading to a vicious cycle of over or under eating. When an individual feels they cannot win, they feel defeated and often fall into what seems like a hopeless battle. 3. You are having trouble in a relationship. Prolonged conflict in a relationship can lead to feeling helpless, stuck, overwhelmed and sad. Relationship issues can cause the brain to release unhealthy amounts of the stress hormone cortisol into the brain causing your situation to feel out of control. 4. You feel numb. Individuals often become depressed without even realizing it because they go through life... Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2017 at Erica Martino
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Mother’s Day is a ponderous day for me. I love being a mom and feel so proud to be the mother to our four children. They bring joy to our lives daily, however, I often think about the people who cannot have children, the children who have lost their moms, the mom who has lost her child, the mom who lost her husband and the mom whose children no longer speak to her. My heart goes out to them. I imagine the day is filled with many emotions. To the women who cannot have children My heart goes out to you. The emptiness you feel is real and I know it sucks. It is hard when you want something so bad and for whatever reason, it will not happen. Please know it is not your fault. I know that is not always easy to accept. I hope you find joy in the day celebrating a mother in your life and never forget that a mom is not just a woman who gives birth but a woman who cares and nurtures for others, if you pour your life in a child, you’re a mother so Happy Mother’s Day to you. To the child who has lost their mother I am sorry. I imagine this day brings sadness. Losing a mom sucks. Moms fill our life with joy, love, and laughter and when they are gone, it hurts. I imagine that no matter how long it has been, the pain of not... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2017 at Erica Martino
As a child, even though I had low-esteem and little belief in myself, it never stopped me from dreaming. I remember fantasizing about being preaching or working in a hospital one day. As I matured, and after many days and hours in the school library, I decided I wanted to be a counselor. You can check out my story here http://www.ericamartino.com/2016/12/i-had-to-prove-i-was-not-the-dumb-girl-from-high-school-.html. At a young age, I enjoyed hearing people’s stories and helping them move toward change. When I graduated high school I enrolled in a college and was planning to get my degree in counseling. Instead of getting my counseling degree at that time I chose to get married. After I got married, I begin working with my husband first at a church, then at couple different schools. We have always done well working together. One day an opportunity presented itself for me to open a fitness center for an investor in the town where we lived. After much contemplation, I decided to give it a try. The fitness center grew rapidly and soon I was running 7 different centers in 3 different states. My favorite part about my job was listening to all the members tell me their stories of pain, hope, and perseverance. After several years of running fitness centers, I decide to become a stay at home mom and take care of my sweet children but even while being at home, my passion for personal development never left me. During my years at home, my husband was... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2017 at Erica Martino
As a child, even though I had low-esteem and little belief in myself, it never stopped me from dreaming. I remember fantasizing about being preaching or working in a hospital one day. As I matured, and after many days and hours in the school library, I decided I wanted to be a counselor. You can check out my story here http://www.ericamartino.com/2016/12/i-had-to-prove-i-was-not-the-dumb-girl-from-high-school-.html. At a young age, I enjoyed hearing people’s stories and helping them move toward change. When I graduated high school I enrolled in a college and was planning to get my degree in counseling. Instead of getting my counseling degree at that time I chose to get married. After I got married, I begin working with my husband first at a church, then at couple different schools. We have always done well working together. One day an opportunity presented itself for me to open a fitness center for an investor in the town where we lived. After much contemplation, I decided to give it a try. The fitness center grew rapidly and soon I was running 7 different centers in 3 different states. My favorite part about my job was listening to all the members tell me their stories of pain, hope, and perseverance. After several years of running fitness centers, I decide to become a stay at home mom and take care of my sweet children but even while being at home, my passion for personal development never left me. During my years at home, my husband was... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2017 at Erica Martino
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Summer 2016, just 6 months ago, while I was weaning myself off my narcotic drugs due to a major surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, I battled with feelings of depression I had never felt before. I would wake up with thoughts and words swirling around in my head, simply with no origin, but they were there and I was listening. Almost every thought and sentence began with two words: Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2017 at Creative Solutions Counseling
Phrases I often hear is: “He made me yell at him.” “We got into a fight because she made me mad." My children will often say “I only hit her because she gave me a dirty look, if she would have been straight face then I would not have gotten so mad.” “It's my teacher's fault I failed, if she would’ve told me about my missing assignments then I would not have failed.” “It's America’s fault I am so angry and burning cars if they would’ve elected Hillary instead of Trump this would not be happening.” “It's my employer's fault I am late to work; they should not expect me to be there so early.” “It's my child’s fault he got his mouth smacked, with language like that he deserves it.” Here is the truth, no one makes you do or say anything. I am going to say that again No one makes you say or doing anything. You are 100% responsible for yourself all the time. This is something I repeat to clients over and over again. Why do I pound this in people’s heads? Because change cannot happen as long as we believe someone is responsible for our happiness or actions. We are all created with Will Power. Will Power What is Will Power? Will Power is the ability to resist temptation and control oneself. This is important because when a person realizes they possess the ability to control themselves it changes everything. Will Power empower you to... Continue reading
Posted Jan 22, 2017 at Erica Martino
It has been 16 years since I experienced some of the worst physical and emotional pain I have ever experienced. My husband Joe and I were newly married and lived 10 hours from family. Joe had accepted a job at a Christian school. During our time there I became pregnant which was not planned nor expected. None the less, Joe and I were very excited! We were new to this whole pregnancy stuff and was not sure what to expect. We found a doctor and arrived at our first sonogram, only to hear the most dreaded words “We cannot find a heartbeat.” They told me not to worry; I could be early, and the heartbeat could still come. Week after week I went back to the doctor hoping to hear a heartbeat. Soon I had to come to terms with the fact the baby was gone. I refused a DNC and lost the baby at home. That night was horrible; I lost so much blood I passed out, I was fatigued and suffering from a broken heart. The physical pain was bad but nothing in comparison to the emotional pain. I felt alone and broken. Over the next several months, I did everything I could to distract myself from the pain. I was tired of feeling those disturbing emotions that kept me a prisoner to my bed. A couple of years went by, and I moved to a new town and new doctor and life continued. I felt so much... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2017 at Erica Martino
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One of the most common things I see in life is people enslaved by their mistakes. Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2017 at Joe Martino
During my time in school, my mother would worry that I did not spend enough time with my children. She would note that I worked 56 hours a week at the office, attended school 8 to 12 hours a week and did homework 20 hours a weekend. How in the world did I get time with my children? Parenting is not about quantity but about quality One researcher suggests that small children only need 15 minutes of one on one time per day and another author suggests the more time a teen spends engaged with their mother, the fewer instances of delinquent behavior. And the more time teens spend with both their parents together in family time, such as during meals, the less likely they are to abuse drugs and alcohol and engage in other risky or illegal behavior. They also achieve higher math scores. If you are like me and wonder if your children are getting enough of time and attention from you, don’t worry anymore. Here are 5 things you can do to spend quality time with them. Engage in an activity with them they enjoy This maybe reading a book, playing with Legos, kicking a soccer ball around, wrestling, painting your fingernails, playing barbie dolls, shooting guns, I think you get the hint, whatever your child enjoys, find 15 minutes out of your day and engage in the activity with them. Sit down and converse I am lucky, all my children love conversation so this is the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2017 at Erica Martino
I spent 2016 learning how to be a therapist. I sat with many people who were hurting. Most of them had something in common, they have been hurt by family. Someone somewhere caused pain that left them feeling hopeless, depressed, scared or alone. The holidays are over and a New Year is here. Here are some tips to dealing with the family members that are causing conflict or pain in your life. Be a good listener. Find out what the person you are in conflict with wants and how they expect you to meet those expectations. Repeat back what you hear them saying to make sure the message you hear is accurate. It is so easy to have a rebuttal in our heads going the whole time someone is talking instead of listening Decide if you can meet the expectations. Sometimes you can and sometimes you cannot. Only you can decide. Express the feelings you experience as a result of the way you are being treated. This is not easy and takes vulnerability. Vulnerability is difficult because it means you can get hurt. Call them on the phone and ask them to listen, write an email, letter, however, if you can get your feelings across, do it! Try to compromise. Compromising is a part of life. There is always a happy medium if two people are willing to find it. Draw boundaries when necessary. Until I became a therapist I use to believe that no matter what it took family... Continue reading
Posted Jan 1, 2017 at Erica Martino
I often hear from people “Erica I do not know how you did it, how did you run a business, go to grad school and take care of four children? The answer is simple. I was out to prove something. I grew up in Ohio and attended a Christian school my whole life. I struggled, really struggled. If you asked my teachers, no one would accuse me of being the sharpest knife in the drawer. Academics and learning did not come easy for me. In 5th grade, I had to attend tutoring the entire summer to move on to the 6th grade. My sophomore year of high school I failed Geometry. My teacher worked with me every study hall and he came to a conclusion “You are never going to get it, so I am going to pass you along.” You are never going to get it were words that I heard from that point on every time I tried to do something. I was super excited to graduate from high school and had no intention of EVER attending college, yet I did. I struggled through my first two years of college and was excited to meet my husband and get married. He saved me from what I perceived to be more failure. The next nine years, I worked hard but Joe and I continued to struggle financially. I watched my husband work 3-4 jobs while I took care of our children at home. While I cared for the girls,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 27, 2016 at Erica Martino
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Wayne has been a therapist for the Joe Martino Counseling Network for five years. He is well-known in the greater Grand Rapids area for his work with adolescents and parents. While getting in with him can sometimes be difficult, he is well worth the wait! Call the office to schedule... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2016 at Creative Solutions Counseling
At the beginning of the year I started Practicum class. Practicum is when, as a student, you begin seeing clients. During the first class Professor Bell handed us are syllabi and I glanced to the required reading and noticed a lot of books on self-care. To be honest I was not overly excited to read them but I did. I was not sure how a mom of 4, a student, counselor and business owner was going to engage in self-care but I figured I would at least toy with the idea. As soon as my eyes open in the morning my mind is going? I am thinking about all I need to accomplish in a day. Who do I need to call? What crisis do I need to manage? How will I continue to grow our business? How can I help my clients? I am also checking my email, voicemail message, text messages and social media messages several times a day and usually respond immediately. My mind is constantly going. My husband swooped me away this summer to an island in the middle of Lake Erie. We rented a golf cart, set up camp and was looking forward to several days of relaxation. We were there about an hour and I begun to feel restless. I was constantly checking my messages, responding to my staff and just wondering what was going on at work, with my kids and with my clients. My husband says something to me along the lines... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2016 at Erica Martino