LovePong App Supports Couples

LovePong is an interesting application that supports couples in relationship. Promoted as a game for couples, it’s a highly interactive website in which two partners sign up to play. The free version

LovePongprovides communication challenges. For example, the first partner might get an assignment such as, “Acknowledge your partner for something you haven’t acknowledged him or her in a while” or “Communicate a pet peeve you have with your partner.”

LovePong then guides you to respond in ways that are powerful, responsible and loving.  For example, communicating a pet peeve is a type of complaint. LovePong will guide you to communicate specifically – e.g., how often does this happen and how big a deal is this for you?  Further, it will ask whether there’s something from your own past that exacerbates this upset. For example, suppose your pet peeve is your partner leaving dishes in the sink. Further suppose that growing up, if someone left dishes in the sink you mother would throw a tantrum. So, “dishes in the sink” is a trigger that your mother is going to suddenly appear and start raving. No wonder it upsets you! So LovePong challenges you to own your part in the degree of the upset.

Continuing with this example, if you have an upset, to be responsible, you should have a request. It might be, “There’s nothing you need to do; I just really want you to hear me on this.” Or it might be, “Please clean your dishes within 10-20 minutes of putting them in the sink.”

LovePong offers guidance for couples. For example, there’s a pop-up you can access that provides advice on what constitutes a powerful request.

Finally, the system will prompt you to close your communication with a loving statement, such as, “Thank you for being the kind of partner with whom I feel safe in complaining. I love you very much!”

The company claims that the majority of users have reported that LovePong helps in their communication and deepens intimacy in relationships.

The premium version, available for $9.00 a month, includes a powerful 30-week course designed by founder William Weil, author of New Earth Relationships: A Guide for Couples in the 21st Century and his partner, JoAnn Brickley, an energy healer and owner of Hydration Health and Fitness.

In March 2014, the company will launch an app version, which will be available on iPhones and Android devices.

Check it out, and let me know what you think!

New Year’s Resolutions

New year resolutions - same again 2014New Year’s Day brings with it the tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions.  These resolutions typically entail setting goals like getting in better shape and losing weight, eating healthier, procrastinating less, or making more money.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with setting goals and trying to make changes in our lives.  But as many of us can attest, by the second week of January, new exercise equipment languishes in the corner of the basement, we’re back to eating junk food, and we’e fallen back into the habits in which we’ve always engaged.

Frequently, the problem in following through on resolutions lies not with the goals that we set but with our approach to achieving them.  A common approach is to set a very regimented plan on January 1st, giving little leeway for error or “slippage.”  The first week goes great, we’re following our plan exactly.  We’re eating well and exercising, getting things done as they come up, and being fiscally responsible.  But then something happens: Life.  We or a member of our family gets sick, we oversleep and don’t have time to make a healthy breakfast or get to the gym, or fun social opportunities arise.  Again, it is not attending to these other demands that lead our resolutions to fall by the wayside.  Instead, it is how we respond to our slips.  A typical response is to be self-critical, pressuring ourselves to redouble our efforts and to right the ship.  And we often do, at least for a few days, maybe even a couple weeks.  But then the same things happen and we get derailed.  And through applying pressure to ourselves again, we become stressed at not only having yet one more obligation to fulfill, but we also stress ourselves by being so self-critical.

Now, stress can be beneficial at times.  It helps to energize and motivate us, to get active and get things done.  Too little stress and we become dormant.  Too much stress and we become overwhelmed, paralyzed into inactivity.  This is what happens when we set our resolutions too rigidly and criticize or pressure ourselves.  Our intention of being strict with ourselves, setting goals, and attempting to achieve them through being tough on ourselves backfires.  We go another eleven months before making the same resolutions the next year only to repeat the cycle.

So as a supplement to the resolutions we usually make, I would like to suggest the following resolutions that may help in achieving our goals as well as permit us to live more fulfilling, peaceful lives:

I will be less self-critical in the New Year.

I will allow myself to be human and to make mistakes.

I will be more gentle with myself in the New Year.

I will be encouraging to myself, even when I make mistakes, rather than pressure myself.

I hope that you have a happy and healthy New Year.

David Prybock PhotoDavid Prybock, Ph.D. is a therapist in the Shadyside area of Pittsburgh.  He works with clients to help them achieve their goals of living happier, more fulfilling lives.

The Baby Blues and Post-Partum Depression

Worried Mother Holding Baby In NurseryAccepting our struggles and getting support with them is a difficult challenge for many of us.  Thoughts that we are weak and fears of being judged often lead us to try to ignore our problems.  When we find ourselves in situations where social and cultural expectations are that we should not be struggling, the challenge of getting help can be even more heightened.

Such social and cultural expectations abound when a woman becomes a mother.  “You must be so excited!” is just an example of the sentiment regularly conveyed to mothers of newborns.  But the reality is that many new mothers suffer from the “baby blues,” feelings of sadness following the birth of a child.  In fact, nearly 20% of mothers will experience post-partum depression.  Post-partum depression, also known as postnatal depression, is a serious mental health condition that often requires treatment.  Symptoms include:

  • Loss of interest, motivation, and pleasure in activities, including self and family.
  • Inability and/or lack of interest in caring for baby;
  • Crying spells;
  • Irritability;
  • Fatigue, loss of energy, insomnia, and excessive sleepiness;
  • Decreased concentration;
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, helplessness, or hopelessness;
  • Thoughts of suicide or of harming others, often your baby.

Obviously, such symptoms not only negatively impact you but can affect your baby because of your difficulty to bond.  Indeed, post-partum depression disrupts the bonding process between mother and child, arguably the most important task of infancy.  Post-partum depression can also impair your relationship with your partner and the rest of your family, as well as interfere with other areas of functioning.

Because managing it on your own is a difficult feat, getting help with your post-partum depression is essential.  Therapy can reassure you that you are not alone, and that postpartum depression is not a character flaw or a weakness.  You are not to blame.

David Prybock PhotoDr. David Prybock is a therapist in Pittsburgh.  He regularly works with individuals who experience pregnancy loss, fertility issues, and postpartum depression.

Errors Are Just a Part of the Game


The cool, crisp air of autumn is upon us.  For the first time in two decades, we Pittsburghers can finally hear the crack of the ball off a bat somewhere other than from our couches as we watch other cities’ teams battle to be World Series Champions.  The streak is over.  The Pirates are a winning ball club again.  As Pittsburgh Pirates fans celebrate the Bucs first winning season since 1992 and anticipate playoff baseball at PNC Park, it only seems fitting to quote Fay Vincent, the man who was the commissioner of Major League Baseball the last time the Pirates made the playoffs:

Baseball teaches us, or has taught most of us, how to deal with failure.  We learn at a very young age that failure is the norm in baseball, and precisely because we have failed, we hold in high regard those who fail less often – those who hit in one out of three chances and become star players.  I also find it fascinating that baseball, alone in sport, considers errors to be part of the game, part of its rigorous truth.”

-Quoted in Ernest Kurtz’s ‘The Spirituality of Imperfection: Storytelling and the Search for Meaning’

“Part of its rigorous truth.”  I love that line.  Errors are part of the game.  That is an absolute, incontrovertible truth.  The Major League record for the fewest errors in a 162-game schedule is held by the 2003 Seattle Mariners.  They committed 65 errors that season, approximately one every three games.  Not bad, but not perfect.

What if, as Kurtz suggests, we change the quote just a bit:

Errors are a part of life, part of its rigorous truth.

Not a single one of us is perfect.  We know this.  We cognitively recognize the inherent truth in such a statement.  And yet we fight against this truth all the time.  We strive for perfection constantly, straining and stressing ourselves despite the reality that we will never achieve perfection.  We bash ourselves, heaping criticisms upon us for not being enough, not being adequate, not being perfect.  We tell ourselves that when we improve ourselves, our relationships, our stations in life, we will be happy and better off.  We try to criticize ourselves into having a better body, being a better worker, being a better lover.  Or we numb ourselves in the face our inability to achieve such perfection, through drinking, drug use, overeating, and engaging in other escapist behaviors.

And yet we never achieve perfection.

            What if, instead of expecting perfection from ourselves, we accepted that:

            Errors are a part of life, part of its rigorous truth.

            And what if we also accepted:

            Errors are a part of me, part of my rigorous truth.

What happens when we strive for perfection and criticize ourselves for not achieving it?  If we answer honestly, the inevitable conclusion is: We make more errors and only feel more beaten down through the process of self-criticism.

Going back to baseball, ask any ball player what happens if he tries to be perfect at the plate.  He gets uptight.  He grips the bat too tightly, he starts to overthink his swing…and he strikes out.  And if he then becomes self-critical about his strike out?  My guess is he will be even more likely to strike out the next time.  But if instead he recognizes that “errors are a part of the game, part of its rigorous truth,” well, he will likely be able to forget about his past failure and move ahead in a positive way, increasing his likelihood of success.

Similarly, if you are able to accept your errors, that they are a part of life’s rigorous truth, I am imagining you will be more likely to succeed as well.  Furthermore, if you are able to accept that you are flawed, imperfect, and that that is part of your rigorous truth, I would bet that you will more likely be able to achieve what you want to achieve.

Keep swinging for the fences.  Keep trying to make that incredible play.  But when you err, perhaps accepting that doing so is part of your rigorous truth could help you make fewer errors and be more compassionate towards yourself.

David Prybock PhotoDavid Prybock, Ph.D. is a therapist in Pittsburgh.  He conducts individual therapy with adults, providing treatment for anxiety, depression, trauma-related issues, eating issues, and addiction, among other issues. 

Keep Breathing

BreathingWelcome to my blog!  I’m David Prybock, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist in private practice in Pittsburgh.  My intention with this blog is to share with you my thoughts, feelings, and experiences regarding therapy and psychological issues with the hope of assisting you in your journey.

I will admit, this is my first foray into blogging, or engaging in any social media for that matter.  I don’t Facebook or Twitter, I never have.  I’m not even really sure what Pinterest is.  But despite being a novice, I get excited at the prospect of blogging:  “This will be fun,” I tell myself.  “I will have a venue in which I can more fully share my thoughts and feelings!”  But then other thoughts start to swirl in my head: “Will I do this right?  Will my entries have their intended effect?”  I suddenly find myself moving from an infectious, positive energy to feeling a pit in my stomach.  And then I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Gestalt psychologist, Fritz Perls:

Fear is excitement without the breath.

I check in with myself.  My chest feels tight and constricted.  My breath is shallow.  Sure enough, I’m not breathing.  And with that, I feel a bit anxious.

Physiologically speaking, what you experience when you are excited and when you are afraid are almost identical.  You may have an increased heart rate, perhaps some jitteriness, you may start to sweat.  One major difference stands out, however, when you experience fear, just as Perls points out in his pithy but profound quote: you stop breathing.  And when you stop breathing, a lot can happen.  For starters, you are in a state of physical deprivation when not breathing, leading you to experience increased unpleasant physiological arousal.  You may get irritable or fatigued, you may even panic.  You likely feel fear.

Try this mini-experiment.  Hold your breath for 15-20 seconds.  What do you notice?  My guess is you may feel tension in your body, some tightness in your chest, perhaps some prickly sensations.  Feels a lot like anxiety, right?  Now breathe and see what you notice.  You may notice a sense of relief, the feeling of sensation returning to your body, and a loosening throughout your core.  You may even feel some energy and excitement.

When I think of the difference between fear and excitement, I think of riding a roller coaster at Kennywood.  I imagine the clicking of the train on the track as the coaster is pulled up the first incline, an excruciatingly slow ride into the stratosphere, your head pushed back against the seat and you only being able to see sky in front of you.  You hold your breath in silent anticipation.  And then there’s that moment…the clicking stops and you know that you’ve arrived at the apex.  Your palms sweat, you may even hear your heartbeat.  You’re not breathing at all now.  You have a moment of fear.  And as the train begins its descent, what do you do?  You scream!  Or, another way of looking at it, you resume breathing.  And that’s when the fun begins.  The fear turns into excitement as you experience the adrenaline rush of plummeting 80 miles per hour towards the ground.  Unless, of course, you continue to hold your breath, in which case you may have a much different experience of that descent.

Breathing makes a big difference in our experience of ourselves, others, and the world.

In addition to the physical changes you experience, another phenomenon often happens when you stop breathing.  You often lose awareness of yourself and your body.  And without awareness, all bets are off.  Losing awareness is a fast track to reverting to those old, familiar patterns and habits that you often work so mindfully to break, because without awareness, you can’t be mindful and choiceful to do something different.  When we are unaware, that is when we fall off our diet and eat all the potato chips without realizing it until we feel the bottom of the bag.  It’s when we stop managing our anger and fly off the handle, snapping at our loved ones.  And it’s when we start to tell ourselves those old, negative messages that are so detrimental to our mental health and well-being.

Breathing is essential, because without it, we lose awareness, and without awareness, we cannot choose to do something different.

So as I write my first blog entry, I check in.  I am breathing.  And I become more aware of myself.  With each inhale and exhale, my anxiety begins to dissipate, I get out of my head and away from the self-doubt that is there, and I begin to feel excited.



Keep breathing.

David Prybock PhotoDavid Prybock, Ph.D. is a therapist in Pittsburgh.  He conducts individual therapy with adults, providing treatment for anxiety, depression, trauma-related issues, eating issues, and addiction, among other issues.