Boundaries are the limits that we set in relationships to let people know what we will or will not tolerate in our lives. Setting healthy boundaries is a very important part of having healthy, loving, supportive relationships.

How to set boundaries

Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images

The problem with setting healthy boundaries is that many of us grew up in dysfunctional families where we had no boundaries. All too often we had to tolerate the negative talk or behavior that was happening around us in order to simply survive in our unhealthy families.
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I was doing therapy with a beautiful young woman recently when she looked at me with tears in her eyes and asked “What happened to my happily ever after?”

I was struck with the intensity of her emotional pain, but at the same time I realized how commonplace her feelings are.

Happily Ever After

Most of us grew up hearing fairy tales about how everything will work out someday. For little girls, we believe that someday our prince will come and everything will be beautiful after that. For boys, it’s expecting that someday you’ll be that knight in shining armor and save the day for your beautiful princess, and then you’ll both “live happily ever after.”

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When I was 17 years old, I was asked to give a speech at my high school graduation on the topic of my choice. The topic I chose was “What makes people happy?” I chose that topic because at that time, I wondered if anyone was really happy or if everyone was faking happiness like I was.

Chasing the Dream of Happiness

I quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thorough, Abraham Lincoln and many great philosophers who wrote about happiness down through the ages, but none of them answered my own burning questions. I had no idea at that time that pursuing my own happiness and helping others find happiness would become my life’s work.

Positive Psychology and the Happiness Frenzy

According to Psychology Today (, there is a ‘happiness frenzy’ going on in bookstores today. Carlin Flora reports that in 2008, there were 4,000 books published on happiness, while only 50 books were released on that topic in 2000.

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As we start the New Year, many people are thinking about their New Year’s resolutions. Are you going to focus on getting healthy and working out at the gym? Do you want to be a better parent and spend more quality time with your kids?

Just Imagine

New Year’s resolutions are good, but as we all know, they often fall by the wayside when life comes along and throws obstacles in our way. It’s very easy to let them all go and go back to our old negative behaviors. Too often we find ourselves sitting in front of the TV instead of exercising and creating that slim, healthy body we had hoped for.

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Give Unconditional Love

December 10, 2012 — 1 Comment

Love is a topic that is written about and sung about more often than any other word, yet, unfortunately, it is still misunderstood by the majority of people we encounter on a daily basis.

Love is the energy

From the time we are very young, we desperately yearn for love and often we’ll do anything and everything to be able to receive it, even if it means giving up who we really are.

What is Love?

In the process of psychotherapy, many people will tell me they don’t know what love is. Often my clients ask me sincerely to define the meaning of love.

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Expect a Miracle!

December 5, 2012 — Leave a comment

It’s very common today to read sayings like ‘Expect a Miracle.’ Since Facebook and social media have become so much a part of our everyday lives, we share these uplifting proverbs with each other regularly.

Expect a Miracle!

But even though we may believe these sayings with our conscious minds, how many of us believe in our hearts that miracles can really happen in our personal lives?

Definition of Miracles

People have different definitions of the word ‘miracle.’ defines a miracle as “an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.”

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Stop Tolerating Abuse!

December 2, 2012 — Leave a comment

Sadly, abuse is still very common in our 21st century culture. As a psychotherapist, I often see clients who are tolerating abusive relationships or abusive behavior in their everyday lives.

Stop Tolerating Abuse!

Although I’m always very grateful that the person I’m working with has made the choice to see professional help, I also feel sad that there are so many others out there who are still being abused. Too often, the most beautiful people simply don’t realize what the problem is or that they could make a choice to better their lives.

Why You May Allow Abuse to Continue

There are many reasons why you may allow abuse to continue in your life. Some of these include:

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Learning the skills of Emotional Healing can be very valuable if you want to be a healthy, happy person.

Emotional Healing for Beginners 

But like anything else that is valuable and precious, it can be difficult to know where to start when you’re doing something you haven’t done before.

What is Emotional Healing?

Emotional Healing is an alternative therapy method that brings you back in touch with your true, authentic self. It involves learning how to identify, express and release your feelings so that you naturally come back to a feeling of love and inner peace. Often it begins with getting in touch with tears or anger that you’ve been holding back and generally it ends with laughing and having fun!

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Loving Your Inner Child

November 11, 2012 — 4 Comments

One of the most powerful exercises you can do to overcome anxiety, depression or other dysfunctional family issues is to love the wounded little child inside of you.

Loving Your Inner Child

Remember that all of us were wounded in one way or another, whether it was done by well-meaning parents who simply didn’t know what we needed emotionally, or whether we were abandoned, abused or neglected.

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Big Boys Don’t Cry!

November 7, 2012 — 2 Comments

Children need to feel safe in naturally expressing their feelings and needs. They need to know that there is at least one adult in the world who genuinely cares for their well being and is willing to make the child a priority.

When a child feels free to express feelings and needs and he is met with patience, kindness, encouragement and support, the child naturally feels safe and secure to learn and grow and express himself openly in the world.

Big Boys Don't Cry

But when a child is verbally or emotionally abused and he experiences disapproval for expressing feelings and needs, that natural vitality and energy of life has to be repressed and shut down. This can easily result in depression, anxiety or negative, acting-out behavior, which often leads to a life-long pattern.

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Although Emotional Healing is a marvelous gift, there will always be days in your healing journey where you feel stuck or depressed and life feels hopeless and overwhelming to you. Those are the days when it’s important to remember to pray for Divine help and guidance.

Utilizing Positive Prayer for Healing

Divine help is always available to you, even when things look hopeless or impossible. You can never know how the answer to your prayer will come, but, rest assured, when you sincerely ask for Divine help; there will always be an answer.

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Avoiding Emotional Pain

October 31, 2012 — 4 Comments

People who are anxious and depressed are often very afraid of facing their real feelings. As adults you may be terrified to let down your guard and feel what is really going on inside yourself.

Sometimes before you can even begin the real healing of anxiety and depression, you have to work through some of the psychological defenses that you are using as a smoke screen to hide the truth.

Avoiding Emotional Pain

You probably developed these strong defenses early in life to shut off your true feelings. Those defenses were generally supported by adults in your life who told them that you shouldn’t feel what you feel.

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You’ll find that Emotional Healing often brings about an inner battle between your ego and your spirit. Your ego doesn’t want to lose control of your life, but your spirit wants you to be strong and free.

Ego Versus Spirit in Emotional Healing

Sometimes in your healing journey you’ll feel the pull of your ego and other times you’ll hear the call of your spirit.

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The primary method that has been utilized by mental health professionals to treat anxiety and depression since the 1980s has been prescription medication. These prescriptions include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and other psychotropic drugs.

Why Emotional Healing Far Surpasses Medications

For many years we, as consumers, have been programmed through TV and media that if we had anxiety or depression, it meant that there was a ‘chemical imbalance’ in our brain. Although researchers have recently found that the chemical imbalance theory was never based on factual evidence, these repetitive TV and media commercials have greatly affected our American culture.

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Anxiety and depression have become major issues in our 21st century American culture. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 56 million Americans, or approximately 25% of adults over the age of 18, suffer from anxiety or depression in a given year (

 Shocking Statistics on Anxiety and Depression

Please consider these important facts for a moment:

  • Approximately 40 million American adults ages 18 and older, or about 18.1 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have an Anxiety Disorder.
  • Major Depressive Disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.
  • Dysthymic disorder (a less severe depression) affects approximately 1.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year. This figure translates to about 3.3 million American adults.
  • Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15-44.

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Triumph Over Trauma

September 26, 2012 — 2 Comments

Trauma is an intense, overwhelming issue that many people have to face at some point in their life.

Triumph Over Trauma

Whether you were a veteran traumatized in a war, a survivor of a hurricane or a national disaster or a child abuse survivor traumatized in your own family, trauma can be a huge hurdle to overcome.

What Causes Trauma?

Trauma isn’t always the result of a major catastrophe. Many people have experienced trauma recently from losing their jobs or their homes and not knowing what to do next to survive. Other people were traumatized by losing someone they loved through an accident or an unexpected illness.

Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. defines trauma as a time “when your biology is assaulted in such a way that you might not be able to reset yourself.”

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So your ex has come back into the picture. He says he’s sorry about the past. He says that he really loves you. He says that he wants to try again.

You feel torn. Your life without him has been challenging and difficult. Money is tight. The kids are hard to handle all by yourself. But is it really the best thing for you? Should you let down your guard and let him into your heart one more time? Remember that the decision you make today could affect many years of your future life and your children’s future lives!

your ex4 Crucial Points to Consider

Before you hand him the keys to your heart, please consider these crucial points:

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You probably thought your thought your marriage was going along quite well. Yes, there were challenges and difficulties, but you really believed the good outweighed the bad. Through the ups and downs you hung in, hoping in time that your partner would see the light and decide to treat you with love and respect. You hoped in time that you would be able to live the dreams that you held precious in your heart of hearts.

divorce decree

Then came the ugly word DIVORCE. You were shocked! You cried. You pleaded. You begged for another chance, but the answer was still NO. Divorce papers were served. You were left picking up the pieces of a life you thought you had shared.

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Change is difficult for most people–especially those of us who grew up in dysfunctional families. We like to stay in our comfort zone; we prefer things to be safe and secure, we want to control the changes in our lives. Yet even little changes that we choose for ourselves can often require months of emotional adjustment, like having a baby, or moving to a new area.

Change can be good!

We feel overwhelmed when changes happen that are out of our control, like getting laid off from a job, or a partner asking for a divorce. And when our whole economic structure falls apart, like it has recently, it can definitely seem to us like an insurmountable crisis.

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As a psychotherapist, I have very strong feelings about how quickly health care professionals prescribe anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications these days. I wonder why, as professionals, we are not making our client’s long-term health and well being our highest priority.

Anti-Depressants or Emotional Healing?

Let me tell you my story. I’ve been involved with Emotional Healing for thirty years. When I first entered an Emotional Healing therapy group as a client in the 1970s, it was a brand new field. I was anxious and depressed, but I didn’t know why. No one talked about emotions back then. The idea that you could get in touch with your emotions and express them to help you heal was outrageous to most people.

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One of the most hurtful comments you can make to a sexual abuse survivor is “It happened a long time ago–Get over it!” Most survivors would love to be free of the deep emotional pain of sexual abuse, but they simply don’t how to get there.

The Heart of Sexual Abuse Recovery

Some survivors describe their abuse as ‘soul murder.’ They describe feeling like something precious was lost from deep inside of them. They report that their bodies were not affected as deeply as their souls.

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The concept of verbal abuse is still new in our world. Many of us still don’t really know what verbal abuse is or how to deal with it. For that reason, I often recommend Patricia Evan’s book The Verbally Abusive Relationship to my clients.

As a psychotherapist, what I like about the book is that it spells out the characteristics and categories of verbal abuse, as well as our basic rights in a relationship.I’m going to list them here so that you can better understand the concept of verbal abuse.a couple fighting

Verbal Abuse is Disrespectful and Hurtful

Verbal abuse is a negative way of talking that is disrespectful and hurtful. It attacks the nature and abilities of a partner. It can be overt or covert. It can be voiced in an extremely sincere and concerned way. Verbal abuse is manipulative and controlling. It disregards, disrespects or devalues a person. It’s often unpredictable.

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It finally happened! He asked you to marry him! You’re probably feeling excited and a little overwhelmed. For many people like you, today is the day you’ve dreamed of for a lifetime.

All your life you’ve been told that some day someone special will ask you to marry him and that day will be the beginning of a whole new life together. You were probably told that you would get married and build a home and have children and raise a family and eventually grow old together. How very lovely it all sounds!


Avoid a Divorce Before Making Wedding Plans

It is truly lovely when things are right between you and your partner, but there is an important issue you should consider before you make wedding plans. You need to be very sure that this man is really the right partner for you. Do you want to raise a family and grow old with this person? Have you discussed your important values and issues with him?

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Are you a naturally happy person? Or do you often feel sad and depressed? Most of us have heard about the importance of seeing the glass half full instead of seeing it half empty. We all know that positive, optimistic people are happier, healthier and more successful. But how does one go from feeling sad and depressed to being happy and light-hearted?

If you are feeling depressed right now, you probably feel doubtful that you could actually change. I do understand! I became a psychotherapist because I was once depressed myself. After I got better, I became fascinated with helping others get better too.

September 2012

I want you to know that if you are willing to work at it, you can definitely overcome your depression. Just because you’re feeling sad and depressed today doesn’t mean you have to live that way for the rest of your life. In my work as a psychotherapist, I’ve helped many people overcome sadness and depression. I know that you can do it too.

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If you want to be a healthy, happy person, it’s very important to learn to love the person you see in the mirror. Although loving yourself can be very challenging if you grew up in a dysfunctional family, it’s definitely worth the time and effort!

Whether you feel stressed, anxious or depressed, or whether you are in a challenging relationship or even going through a divorce, learning to love yourself is a crucial step in your healing process.

Love yourself

When you honestly love yourself, your love overflows to everyone around you
and everything in your life begins to sparkle and shine!

Self-love is the essential ingredient of a healthy, happy life. It gives you the self-esteem to believe in your abilities and pursue your dreams. It helps you make healthy choices. It allows you to achieve satisfaction and fulfillment. It frees you to give and receive love in loving, supportive relationships.

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Everyone has heard about the high rate of divorce these days. More than half of all marriages are doomed to end. Most of us don’t want to look at the ugly truth of what brings about divorce.

Some of you already know your marriage is in trouble, but you may not be not sure what the problem is. Too often, we are blind to our real issues until we have already done the irreparable damage to our marriage.
Questions to avoid divorce

For those of you who are wondering what you are doing that is making your partner unhappy, I’ve put together a list of questions that will help you understand what the real problem could be in your marriage.

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Sometimes it’s difficult to know what to read to support your Emotional Healing journey. Because of that, I’ve put together a list of 100 Best Psychology/Self Help Books that will assist you in healing naturally.

Kari Joys Emotional Healing

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Your marriage is in trouble. You don’t know what is wrong. You want more than anything to make it work. Reluctantly, you make the appointment for marriage counseling. You show up for the first interview feeling nervous and scared.

Many questions run through your mind. Will the counselor attack you? Will s/he tell you there’s no hope? Will s/he blame you for everything that went wrong? Will your partner tell you it’s all over?

marriage counseling

Feeling Safe and Relaxed with Marriage Counseling

Your marriage counselor welcomes you. S/he tries to make you feel safe and comfortable. S/he lets you know there is nothing to fear. You can relax and let down your guard. It’s safe to cry if you need to.

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Laughter heals—and it feels good too! It benefits us in many surprising ways. Here’s a beautiful poster you’re going to love about the health benefits of laughter.

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The JoyIAm Process is a natural, alternative healing method that brings you back in touch with your true authentic self. It can transform stress, anxiety, depression or abuse issues into joy, self-esteem, inner peace and light-heartedness.

Learning to be Authentic

With the JoyIAm Process, you learn to identify, express and release your feelings, so that you naturally come back to love and peace inside yourself. Usually it begins with getting in touch with tears or anger that you’ve been holding back and often it ends with laughing and having fun.

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The secret to the JoyIAm Process is simple. By helping you learn to identify, express and release your natural feelings, it takes you to the root of your emotional issues and helps you to permanently resolve and release them.

Emotional Healing Transforms Your Life

The JoyIAm Process is natural; it’s safe; it’s effective; and most importantly, it starts to work immediately.

7 Common Approaches to Psychotherapy

There are 7 common approaches to psychotherapy available today:

  1. Antidepressant Medications
  2. Behavioral Therapy
  3. Cognitive Restructuring
  4. Positive Psychology
  5. Mindfulness Therapy
  6. Emotional Healing
  7. The JoyIAm Process

Let’s discuss them one at a time.

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