Clinical depression is an illness as common as the common cold: Let’s remember Robin Williams

I recall that when Robin Williams first appeared on the seen several decades ago I liked him instantly.  Every week I watched his show and over the years have watched almost every movie he was in.  Through his comedy he made me laugh, and in his serious roles he caused me to reflect on important aspects of life. He was a man of unusual talent, and will be missed by many, myself included.

I find it so sad that Robin Williams, a man who brought laughter and joy to so many, was constantly under pressure to show a persona that was so different from the emotional suffering he faced during his life. His legacy is bittersweet. My heart goes out to those he left behind. 

Tragedies like this one can help us to focus on what needs to be done to improve situations where we can make a difference. Millions of Americans suffer from depression; unfortunately most cases go undiagnosed.  They suffer in silence.  They may be afraid to admit that something is wrong.  They may not have the support or the resources to access the care that can help them get well.  They self-medicate with alcohol, drugs, or other things to ease their pain. Their lives are a constant struggle. Robin Williams knew all about that struggle.

Depression can afflict anyone.  Even though it is as common as the common cold, it usually does not resolve itself like the common cold.  Depression is progressive and can become debilitating.  It can rob you of many important things, including your precious life.  Being depressed does not mean that you are defective or weak.  It means that you have a health condition that is no different than heart disease or diabetes.  Depression requires attention and care, and there are many resources available to recover from it.  Professional help from a qualified mental health provider can make all the difference for you. 

If you have been dealing with feelings of chronic sadness, anxiety, stress, sleep problems, loss of pleasure and fatigue, take that courageous first step to contact a mental health professional for a consultation.  You will be glad you did.

 Nelly Venturini, LMHC, NCC, CIRT


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What is Your Image?

Achieving a healthy, strong relationship with our partner is an ongoing process based on love, commitment, and dedication.  What a lot of people don’t know is how to build or maintain that kind of relationship with their partner, nor recognize that certain things can erode the emotional connection that initially brought them together.

To begin,  is difficult to love someone you don’t know well.  Many couples don’t take the time to get to know each other well. The initial spark that many couples confuse with love is usually infatuation, not genuine love.  It takes time to discover the real person behind the early spark of attraction that causes couples to want to pair up.  Healthy marriages or dating relationships are those where both partners learn how to accept the good, the bad, and the ugly in each other.  We all have those positive and not-so-positive aspects of our personalities.  The good news is that your most intimate relationship can be the crucible in which partners can experience personal and collective positive change.  The genuine sense of safety in the relationship can provide an atmosphere of mutual support and understanding where genuine love can grow.

In some relationships, however, one or both partners hang on tightly to the idealized image of the other, which they created in their own mind from the beginning of their relationship.  This is usually followed by placing that individual on a pedestal and having unrealistically high expectations which leave little or no room for their human flaws. They can’t disappoint you, make mistakes, or fail to be who you expect them to be. When that person falls off their pedestal, it’s usually a hard fall where that idealized image gets shattered.  Usually this spells the end of the relationship, or if the partners remain in it, it’s a painful and stressful experience because they don’t know how to re-invent the relationship in a more realistic fashion.

Does this ring a bell for you?  If it does, the best thing to do is to take corrective action before it’s too late. Seek professional help if you can’t do this on your own.  You may want to check my new book “How to Repair Your Marriage: Easy Steps to Rekindle the Love and Passion”, available in printed and digital forms through Amazon.

Nelly Venturini, MA, LMHC, NCC, CIRT


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The Power of Touch

Human beings are made for relationship.  This is a well known fact in the field of Psychology and Neuroscience. Even from our early days within our mother’s womb we are touched by the vibrations of our mother’s heartbeat and the sound of her voice, and when we are born we can recognize both.  As infants our development depends on the nurture we receive from our caregivers, and a good part of that nurturing involves touching and being touched in loving and caring ways.  It turns out that our brains are wired to interpret human touch.  Our mind, body, and spirit benefit from it.

When we are touched our brain releases “feel good” neurotransmitters like endorphins, and the levels of stress hormones in the body drop. Furthermore, when humans engage in loving touch, the levels of Oxytocin (the hormone that facilitates bonding and attachment) increase, and heart rates go down.  This produces relaxation and a sense of well-being in both the giver and the receiver.  

When couples are dating there is a progression in the degree of touch as the emotional connection gets stronger.  During the romantic stage of the relationship this happens naturally, but in time it tends to decrease until both partners reach a level of comfort where both initiate loving touch on a regular basis. When a couple is unable to reach this level of comfort in this area, the relationship can easily fall apart.  As a matter of fact, touch is an important indicator of the health of the relationship.  Studies have demonstrated that the health of a marriage can be gauged, not by the frequency of touch that takes place, but by how frequently each partner responds to that touch.  

This does make a lot of sense.  If only one partner initiates touch, this may point to an imbalance or emotional disconnect in the relationship, or perhaps the couple has not reached a level of comfort regarding touch with their partner.  If partners don’t touch at all, this may indicate that there are unresolved conflict in the relationship.  It is true that extroverted individuals tend to be more expressive of their feelings, and introverted ones are less inclined to do so.  Nevertheless, the ability to feel comfortable with an appropriate level of loving touch, as well as the ability to respond in kind is crucial to the health of a marriage or dating relationship.  

Sometimes couples who at one point were able to find that level of comfort with touch stop being affectionate with each other for various reasons.  It could be that they have begun to take each other for granted, or they may have become distracted with other things, or, worse yet, they may have simply become lazy or complacent.  Am I stepping on some toes here?  I hope so, because this can wake you up to the fact that if you are experiencing a lack of affection in your most intimate relationship, now is the time to address this.  Like a plant who is neglected, the relationship will perish without loving care.  

What are you doing right now?  Working on the computer, or staring at the cell phone waiting for the next text message, you say?  Stop right now…go and touch your partner lovingly.  Use the language of touch to communicate how you feel.  It will be good for both of you.  You will be glad you did.  Then keep it up on a regular basis.         

Nelly Venturini, MA, LMHC, NCC, CIRT


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From “Being” to “Becoming”

From “Being” to “Becoming”

I once heard the minister who was officiating a wedding say that happiness in marriage is more about being the right partner than marrying the right partner.  What a concept!  I am sure that there were many in the audience pondering that statement.

In my work with couples who are trying to save their marriage I often hear them say: “Well, that’s the way I am, I can’t change that.”  My reply to them usually is: “How well is that working for you”?  The invariable answer to that question is: “Not very well.”

Marriage or dating partners blame each other for problems in their relationship, and that is human nature.  In an intimate relationship we have a great opportunity for growing and becoming the kind of person we need to be.  Contrary to popular belief, being who we are is not unchangeable.  While it’s important to stay true to important values and principles that define us who we are, the things that prevent us from having a loving connection with our partner can definitely be changed and improved.  We can learn to communicate respectfully, control our emotions instead of letting them control us, we can become better problem solvers, we can find ways to manage stress effectively, among many other things that can have a positive impact on our relationships.

Of course, this process cannot begin until each partner honestly looks at themselves and takes responsibility for how they are contributing to the problems in the relationship.  The next step is to go about the work of becoming the kind of partner you need to be. Needless to say, this is easier said than done.  But as we all know, anything that is worth something will cost us something.  Committing to our own process of self-improvement is as important as the commitment to the marriage.  

So, I believe the minister was right.  If both partners go about the business of becoming the right partner in the marriage, happiness in it is the byproduct for both. How about you?  This is a challenge for all of us.

Nelly Venturini, MA, LMHC, NCC, CIRT


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Money and Marriage: Joined at the Hip

Money does not buy happiness, goes the saying, but it sure does help.  Financial problems can wreak havoc in our lives and in our marriages.  It’s no wonder that the number one reason that couples divorce these days is due to money problems.  

In the financial environment of today, couples and families are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet.  From overspending, to housing problems, to loss of employment, and now as America anxiously awaits the implementation of the health care reform,  many partners are faced with scenarios they did not anticipate when they said their marriage vows.  A number of families are wondering if they will be dropped to part-time status by their employer, and do away with their health care benefits. That could make things worse, for sure.  

This all adds up to mounting stress and a shift from living the American Dream to surviving as best we can. Alongside there is a shift in focus from the marriage to money, or the lack of it.  Marital conflict becomes more frequent and more intense, to the point where couples see divorce as the only way out.  But divorce only makes things worse money wise, and in every other aspect of life, particularly where the children are involved.  Rest assured, everyone in the family will have less of everything after a divorce.

So, the question begs, can money and marriage get a divorce?  No, not really.  For better or for worse, these two are, as I said, joined at the hip.  My advice to anyone who is having financial problems is that your best bet is to work on your marriage so that you and your spouse can solve your money issues as a team, instead of letting them destroy you and your family.  Get professional help if you can’t do this on your own, the sooner the better, don’t wait until it’s too late.  Money comes and goes, but people and relationships…those are our real treasures.  

Nelly Venturini, MA, LMHC, NCC, CIRT


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“How to Create the Relationship of Your Dreams”

                I have never met anyone who didn’t desire to have a partner or spouse with whom they can experience deep love, understanding, and fulfillment.  Unfortunately, few of us have actually learned what it takes to have that kind of a relationship.  Well…it’s never too late to learn.  Here are some basic principles to consider in the important journey of creating the relationship of your dreams:

  • Couples are able to create meaningful connection when safety and trust are part of the foundation in their partnership.
  • Partners develop patterns of interaction and communication that pave the way for a secure connection from the very start of their relationship.
  • These patterns of interaction and communication are strongly influenced by the patterns of interaction and communication (or lack thereof) that each partner experienced in their relationship with their main caregivers and other significant people while growing up.
  • In order for partners to create a secure bond with each other they need to be able to achieve the following:
  1. Create an alliance through open communication.  This requires congruence between the verbal and nonverbal messages between partners.
  2. Create a sense of stability and equality that allows for safety and trust to develop.  This allows couples to take risks and be vulnerable with each other.
  3. Each partner is required to grow and develop areas in their thinking, feeling, and behavior that are interfering with their ability to accomplish the first two tasks.  This process can only be achieved when both partners take responsibility for creating a healthy connection within themselves (body, mind, and spirit) as well as with each other.  This process begins by each partner taking personal responsibility for resolving inner conflict or unresolved issues that are blocking their ability to be truly intimate and vulnerable in the relationship.  This may require the help of a professional counselor who can provide skilled guidance in the process.  A relationship specialist would be best qualified to help.

                When couples have difficulty creating this type of secure connection they usually begin to think they’ve chosen the wrong partner.  Disappointment, resentment, sadness, anger, and other unpleasant emotions gradually develop.  Instead of resolving the issues between them partners usually start distancing from each other to avoid the emotional pain they’re experiencing.  Sometimes they settle for leading parallel lives with little interaction, or they eventually find exits out of the relationship such as affairs, addictions, excessive work, etc.  Other couples at this point begin arguing frequently, as this becomes the only way of getting attention from each other.  Negative attention is better than feeling invisible and alone.

                Almost every single time, though, people end a relationship just to end up in another that is similar to the one they left behind.  Some people end up thinking that this is because they are “damaged goods”, but in reality it’s because they are seeking healing, growth, and meaning.  The only problem is they just don’t know how to go about it.  As a relationship specialist with years of experience, I can help you find the way and gain the skills you need.  Please don’t hesitate…the relationship of your dreams is within your reach.

Nelly Venturini, MA, LMHC, NCC, CIRT  
“Promoting healing, growth, and relationships in a safe and supportive atmosphere”
555 Winderley Place – Suite 300
Maitland, FL 32751
(407) 491-8260



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