Bertone Therapy
Understanding Feelings, Addiction, Grief & Communication Skills

Understanding Feelings

Whether you are anxious, hurt, sad, lonely, depressed, grieving, guilty, bored, stressed or otherwise feeling overwhelmed, those feelings are present for a reason. Usually, it's because some important need, want or desire isn't being met.  As human beings, we are constantly needing, wanting and desiring and our feelings change accordingly.  So, for some clients, I help them to identify and adequately and effectively express feelings that have been causing them pain or preventing them from making satisfactory adjustments in their personal, family or work lives. After all, happiness and inner peace is a commonly desired goal - which can only be achieved when feelings are understood, validated and satisfied, as opposed to ignored or avoided.

For example, when a client comes in to see me for anger issues, I remind them that anger is present because they've perceived some situation as being unfair and, once that anger is acknowledged and validated, then it's usually a matter of the client making the choice of a more effective response to get the underlying need for fairness met. And, when the need for fairness is met, the client's anger dissolves.

Addiction (Viewed as a Distractor from Feelings)

Some people are overcome by their feelings.  Others purposely or unconsciously ignore or avoid them.  There are many proven methods for distracting ourselves from feelings.  Some of the more common ones include: abusing alcohol and drugs, overeating, smoking, gambling, compulsive shopping, pornography and masturbation, sex addiction, playing video games to excess, or simply working way too much.

Most clients with alcohol or drug problems, or who suffer from other forms of addiction, are merely trying to distract themselves from painful feelings.  For them, we first identify the underlying feelings. Then, we look at ways they can challenge feelings they may have labeled as "overwhelming" and accept and process them in ways that are more satisfying, so that they no longer have to be avoided. These clients ultimately learn that they've been missing out on valuable information that their feelings contain to help them get important needs, wants or desires met.  As such, there really is no such thing as a "bad" feeling - although some admittedly feel worse to us than others do.  However, feelings that are avoided or go unnamed cannot provide us with the essential information that we need for greater contentment.


Grief can occur when we lose people, relationships, pets or things we formerly enjoyed.  Grief can also happen when we never had a person, relationship, pet or thing in our life that we wanted or thought we should have.  Grieving can be short-lived for some and longer for others.  Older teachings informed us that grief followed an expected course of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  This is no longer the enlightened viewpoint.  What we now know is that each person grieves very differently and, as such, accommodations need to be made for those who experience more complex and prolonged emotional and behavioral responses.

Communication Skills

Most people with relationship problems require some help with communication. Frequently, the source of the conflict in relationships is the inability to tell another person what we want or need and to actually be heard by them. Another challenge often reported is the inability to be an effective listener.  With such clients, we discuss and reflect upon the ways in which they currently interact to get their needs, wants and desires met and the components needed to become a better communicator and listener.  A majority of us use an aggressive or passive-aggressive approach to getting our needs met, which either produce negative side effects or are too indirect to be truly effective.  When a person learns how to be more direct and assertive in asking for what they want, they create many more opportunities for fulfillment.  

Marc R. Bertone, MA, JD, LMFT

4605 Barranca Parkway, Suite 101A, Irvine, CA. 92604

(949) 683-0412

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