Sunday, February 17, 2008

ELIZA - Online Virtual Psychologist

Hi Friends. Happy Sunday.

I just ran across something I used to play with as a kid that was very fun. It's ELIZA, an artifical intelligence based "virtual psychologist". Basically, you type in your problem, and it will help refocus your thoughts. As a kid, I thought it was so great; as an adult, it certainly seems less sophisticated. But if does help to draw answers out of you.

Here's the link:

It's based on an artifical intelligence algorithim that scans for keywords (like never, always, I feel...) and then it helps you to reflect and asks you more questions. It's absolutely better for some problems than others.

If you'd like, give it a try then let me know what you think.Maybe it will be time for folks like me to retire. :)


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Can my relationship be saved?

Lately a lot of folks have been asking me if their relationship can be saved. They report that their relationship has been bad for years, that they're pretty sure they want to leave, and they want to know if I think they should get a divorce.

So here's where I have to admit some bias....I am always on the side of marriages staying together.

However, here's what I would say to someone wondering if they should stay or leave their marriage:

I'd always encourage you to act in ways that make you feel good about yourself and your life. If this relationship has reached a point where it can no longer be saved, that's a decision for you to make. I always believe there is hope and that any marriage can be made better, but as to whether or not we should keep trying, that's something I cannot tell you. Any decision needs to be yours because you know yourself and your feelings better than I ever will. I am always on the side of trying to make things work, but if you do not feel that's in your best interest or that it can work, I will certainly understand and support you. You deserve to be happy and to be in a relationship that brings you joy.

Here are some questions to ask yourself and to think about:

-Can you say that you have done all you can to make this work?
-Have you taken responsibility for the things you have done that have caused the relationship to be in this state?
-Is anyone else a factor in this relationship?
-Do you have realistic expectations of what things would be like if you left?
-Can you feel comfortable looking at your kids 5-10 years from now explaining the decision you might make?

Your answers to these will be so telling....

It would be easy for me to tell you to stay or go, but in so doing, I am "playing God" - I can't know what's right for you, I can only say that I trust that you to know what's right for you, that you have the answer inside of you, and that the best I can do is help bring that answer to the surface.

But to run with it a little more - how would you feel if I told you to throw in the towel?

Should I stay or go? Questions to ask if you think you want a divorce:

How To Know When to Call It Quits

How do you know when to throw in the towel or when your marriage has reached the point of no return? Ask yourself some key questions before making the decision to file for divorce.
  • Are the two of you fussing with one another over trivial matters?
  • Does just about everything about your spouse irritate you?
  • Has your spouse physically or emotionally abused you? Are you afraid of your spouse?
  • Do you believe that your love, patience and hope have just all run out?
  • Can you communicate about anything or do you always end up in a disagreement?
  • When you fight, do you fight fair? Do either of you bring up past hurts?
  • When was the last time you had fun together?
  • When was the last time you felt sexually attracted to each other?
  • Do you still make love?
  • Do the same problems keep resurfacing again and again?
  • Have you tried counseling?
  • Can you accept that your personal unhappiness is your own responsibility?
  • Does your spouse constantly put you down, attack your self-esteem, and/or criticize you?
  • Do you have any respect for your spouse? Does your spouse respect you?
  • Are you willing to co-parent the rearing of your children with your ex-spouse?
  • Are your goals and values different?
  • Can you compromise on important issues?
  • Has your spouse been unfaithful?
  • Do the same problems keep resurfacing again and again?
  • Do you have dreams of divorce or that your spouse died?
  • Do you have a plan if you do divorce?
  • Are you able to cope with the financial and emotional stresses of divorce?

It is important that you face the realities of divorce and not the fantasy.

Sometimes an unhealthy relationship cannot be saved and divorce is inevitable.

Realize that you must keep yourself emotionally and physically healthy through this stressful time.

You won't make rational decisions if you are depressed or sleep deprived.
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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The thing you are ripening towards....

Hi friends. I was browsing through a book store last week and came across the most amazing book - BLOOM by Kobi Yamada. It's a collection of inspirational quotes and thoughts.

This one was especially moving...

The thing you are ripening towards is the fruit of your life. It will make you bright inside, no matter what you are on the outside. It is a shining thing.-Stuart Edward White

I might have changed it to say that YOU are a shining thing.

When we are struggling through a hard time in our lives, it's so natural to turn our thoughts to all of our flaws. It's so easy to forget that there's so much good in us. That we are all works in progress and that we are all becoming better, taller, stronger, brighter every day.I hope this quote touches you and inspires you to bloom into all that you're meant to be.


Dr. Kathy Nickerson is an expert counselor who helps couples and families improve and strengthen their relationships. She specializes in marriage counseling, couples counseling, and pre-marital counseling. Many of her Kathy's materials, including audio recordings of the how-to questions she is most frequently asked, are available at no cost on her website: Kathy would love to hear from you and she may be reached at 949.222.6688 or via email to

Update - Dr. Kathy on COX Forum

Hi Friends. Just wanted to let you know that you can see my on Cox Channel 3 Forum on 02/14 at 7pm. I will be talking about the effects of violence in the media on kids. I'd love for you to watch and let me know what you think! Thanks so much.