Media Monday. Podcast Episode 126. Your Most Powerful Tool

If you'd like to hear more episodes search "The Joe Martino Show" in your favorite podcast player or listen at the link below on SoundCloud.

What a year 2020 has been! Can we find the power to create a world that we want even in the midst of a pandemic? I believe we can when we utilize our most powerful tool for change. Listen on, my friends.

Media Monday. Podcast Episode 125. Mental Models

How do you know where you are when you're out driving? How do you make sense of the world around you? As a 90's musical artist suggested, we are all just trying to find our place in this world. This episode deals with the existence of mental models and how we utilize them to make sense of our world.

If you'd like to hear more episodes feel free to search "The Joe Martino Show" in your favorite podcast player or listen at the link below on SoundCloud.

You can also find more information at

Media Monday. Podcast Episode: 122. Who Do You Want To Be When Your Emotions Are Strong?

We all experience strong emotions. What we do at that moment is what matters the most. Those decisions will often shape who we become and the life that we live.  This episode gives strategies on how to best deal with those moments so that we can have the life that we want to live.

If you'd like to hear more episodes feel free to search "The Joe Martino Show" in your favorite podcast player or listen at the link below on SoundCloud.

You can also find more information at

When you feel strong emotions, who do you want to be? What actions do you want to show people?




Download it in your favorite podcast player or click on the Sound Cloud link above.     

New Podcast Episode: 123. Make A Small Shift In Your Thinking To Improve Your Stress Response

With the election and holidays coming, many people are experiencing more anxiety and stress. That's before we talk about things like Covid. This podcast episode deals with a simple yet profound shift in our thinking approach to stressful things. If you'd like to hear more episodes feel free to search "The Joe Martino Show" in your favorite podcast player or listen at the link below on SoundCloud.

You can also find more information at

If you can make this one shift in your thinking, you will improve your anxiety management.






Download it in your favorite podcast player or click on the Sound Cloud link above.     

New Podcast Episode: Healing Our Society Through Emotional Regulation

Handing our emotional distress can be a lot like putting a puzzle together. Putting that puzzle together can help us heal as individuals, families, and society. Listen below to my newest podcast episode on the healing power of emotional regulation. You can also listen in your favorite podcast player, simply search The Joe Martino Show.

You can find the podcast webpage by clicking here.


Change takes time

Joe, we have a problem.

If you're like most people I know, there is probably something about your life that you'd like to change. 

If you're like some people I know, you've probably engaged the change process to some extent.
And you've probably experienced distress and disappointment because you didn't accomplish what you set out to do.

One of the most discouraging aspects of change can be the time it takes to actually experience the change. Let me tell you a personal story...

This past weekend I was working on a home project. We're remodeling our house and doing many of the projects on our own. If you've done this, you know that you have to check off portions of the projects at different times. Career, kids, and life still have their demands on your time. We are re-doing every bathroom in our house.
So on labor day, I am working on the bathroom light fixture. I killed the power, took the old fixture off and something was askew.

There was an extra grounding wire. It was coming out of the wall. I didn't understand it. I also had to drive to the hardware store because I needed electrical tape.

The hardware store is a good twenty minutes from my house. About halfway there I realized I wasn't angry.
Let me explain.
Due to a variety of factors from my past, my mind typically runs to how I am a screwup and the problem with the projects is my fault. 

My inner voice starts screaming at me, "Joe, YOU Are the problem." Screen Shot 2020-09-10 at 1.04.37 PM

If I'm going to be vulnerable here, my outer voice used to scream quite a bit too. So a number of years ago, I started coming up with strategies to not allow the outer voice to escape. I game planned physical responses that involved walking away, counting backward, taking deep breaths, etc.

And to be honest, for quite a few years now, I've had success with my outward behaviors. During this time of outward success, I've been working on my inner voice.

Until Monday.

Monday, the problem with the light was just a problem to be solved. It wasn't me. It wasn't something wrong with me. It was just something that I didn't understand because I had never seen it before. 
I was able to solve the problem and the light is in and currently working. But that's not the point.

To experience my end goal of change took years.

The point of this post is that to experience my end goal of change took years. To be honest, I have no idea what my brain will do the next time I encounter a problem. I do know that I'm trending in the right direction.

I share this story with you because I want you to know that it might take you years to experience true change. You will probably experience small successes followed by setbacks. That's OK.

In fact, it's normal. It's part of the process.  Success comes in spurts. Stay the course. Don't stop. Evaluate what's going on, plan, and evaluate again. Then make adjustments. 

Above all, do not quit.

Don't give in to the voice in your head.

You are not the problem, you are simply encountering problems to resolve. 

Change is a daily process.

Thinking About Therapy? Some Common Questions.

The following is a post I wrote for a local publication.

Thinking About Therapy? Let’s talk about some common questions. (Part 1)

With the pandemic going on, our lives are continually facing difficulties and disappointments from last year’s lost graduations to lost sports seasons. Screen Shot 2020-08-27 at 10.40.11 AM

Some are undoubtedly minor inconveniences, while others are events and possibilities that only come along once in a lifetime.
With that, grief has come for all of us in different ways.
Then there is the loss of life.

Death from the virus.
Death from suicide.
Relationship stress.
Marriages strained.
Parenting skills are nearly depleted.
With all of these stressors, many people are turning to therapy for help. And yet, many others are still suspicious of counseling. Some people are afraid of what counseling is like and what happens in a session.

This series will attempt to answer the most common questions we encounter about counseling.

What does it cost?

Cost is, by far, one of the most common questions that we field with people looking into therapy. The truth is that prices vary. And the factor is often insurance companies dictate what the cost to the client is going to be. They dictate to us what we are to charge their patients. We do have a self-pay option for clients who do not wish to utilize insurance or do not have insurance. Almost all clinics that I know of have this option as well.

What about Insurance?

“Will you take my insurance?” is an incredibly common question I am asked whenever I discuss counseling options with someone. The truth is that almost every counselor I know will take every insurance that will work with them, but not every insurance will work with all therapists.

The truth is that in the state of Michigan, you can go to Graduate School and earn a counseling degree. You can pass multiple licensing stages, and an insurance company can still decide not to work with you. I wrote about this on my website at search, “your insurance company is working against you.”

The short answer is that we will take every insurance company that works with us. If you have a question about it, I encourage you to call your insurance company or the office you’re thinking of for counseling. At our counseling agency, we have many therapists in-network with a variety of insurance companies.

My company has an EAP. What does that mean?

Employee Assistance Programs, also called EAP’s are a widespread benefit for most companies today. We work with every EAP that we have ever encountered at our agency and can easily add a company if we do not currently work with them. EAP’s will typically cover the cost of a session for three to eight sessions. I have worked with one company that covered up to twelve sessions for their employees. Sometimes, churches will also cover some sessions for people in their congregation. You should check with your HR department or your local church to see if you qualify for coverage.

I can’t afford any of those options, can I still get help?

The answer to this question will vary from agency to agency. A lot of therapists will run a schedule with a couple of free slots in them. The balance that counseling agencies have to straddle is the tension between wanting to help everyone and paying the bills.

To help achieve those two seemingly competing goals, some agencies will have interns. My agency has an intern program to help people who can’t afford counseling in more traditional means.
At our agency, I am currently the Intern supervisor. Interns have state-required educational hours and courses and need to get real-life experience in clinical hours. Some people might find it helpful to think of interns like residents. Typically, there is a small charge for this service, as therapy has proven to be more beneficial for those who make some payments.

Can my company get my records?

When someone takes advantage of an EAP, they are sometimes concerned about who can get the counseling records. With minimal exceptions, your privacy trumps everything else. Your company cannot get your files unless you sign off on a form giving them permission or some other arrangement for the process to begin. In this situation, the Law requires that you be informed of those arrangements before beginning counseling.

How long is a typical session?

I've heard about sessions that go for hours and hours and can only speak for our agency. Typically, a session is somewhere between forty-five minutes to a full hour. This allows your therapist to have a few moments to transition to their next client. Most of my clients report that the time seems to fly by and are often surprised when I tell them it's time to end.

Next month we’ll cover what happens in the first session, what researchers think is the most important variable to consider in counseling and more. If you have a question for me about counseling, feel free to contact me through my webpage and I’ll try to answer it in a future session.

Respond, Don't React--Live in tension. What a dumpster taught me about good decision making

Tuesdays are long days for me. I usually leave the house around 7:30 and I don't typically leave my office until about 9:15 that night.

Usually, the trip home is punctuated with a stop at the dumpster to throw trash out. For a couple of months, I would transport the trash from our Grand Rapids office to our Lowell office. Why? Well, let's look at the dumpster. Do you see the lock not actually locking anything? Screen Shot 2020-08-06 at 10.01.26 AM

This dumpster didn't always have a lock on it. What prompted it? One weekend, someone put their personal trash in the dumpster. No idea if it was someone who rents an office space or someone from the surrounding area.

As a reaction (that's an important word for this post), either the landlord or the management company decided that the best response (another important word for this post) was to put a lock on the dumpster to keep trash out that isn't supposed to be there.

That sounds reasonable.

That sounds like it makes a good response.

But does it.

You'll notice the lock isn't locking anything. It hasn't been for weeks. Which brings me back to why I was transporting the trash from one office to another.

The lock is almost impossible to use.  At first, I thought it was just me or the general way that counselors' minds work. I think one of our interns was taking trash home with her rather than deal with the lock.

I called the management company.

I emailed them.

They said, "It works, must be you. Happy to send someone to train you on how to use it."

I've driven by and watched almost all of the other tenants wrestle with the lock. One time, a woman in a nice business suit was down on her knees trying to work the lock while a man in his own business suit was banging on the top of the lock. I've watched other tenants in the building walk the trash to a different dumpster in our complex only to get yelled at from a physically distanced space by that building's tenants. I've watched in rapt fascination as the environmental waste people wrastled (that's like wrestling but more intense) with the lock.

Finally, I drove past about a month ago and the lock was as you see it in the picture. I've never seen it locked since that day. Including, after the trash truck's pick up.

Why are we talking about this? Because this lock is a great example of poor leadership. It's a great example of short-sited decision making.

I know a lot of corporations and people that navigate their own lives in a similar fashion.

We've been at this location for almost eight years. In those eight years, the trash dump has happened exactly one time.


A single event.

Does that really warrant an email about how unfair it is to the landlord and a lock that apparently very few people can open?


Is this evidence of a reaction as opposed to a response?

Responses are thought out. Their outcomes are pondered. They are actions where possibilities have been examined.

Reactions are doing something simply because we must do something. It's about feeling better because something is happening with little concern for the efficacy of what is happening.

I sometimes worry that reactive living is a pandemic in our society.

Think about this lock. It was originally implemented because someone in management had a concern that the Landlord would be paying for trash that is not covered in the rents he is collecting.  So they put on a lock that now, it seems, everyone is refusing to use.

They failed to achieve what they set out to accomplish.

They didn't ask questions like "How often has this happened? How likely is it to happen again? How happy or unhappy will our tenants be with a lock? What happens if the trash removal company wants a lock that is difficult to use?"

Really simply, they failed to ask two broad scope questions. Both questions sit on a foundation of how likely are we to accomplish what we are trying to do?

  1. What is the return or reward of that action?
  2. What's the cost of that action?

As it currently stands, they have spent money to get the dumpster fitted with a collar and bought two locks, it's commonly believed that the first one was accidentally thrown in the dumpster, and they still have not accomplished what they set out to do.

I doubt that they will any time soon.

Truthfully, I see a lot of people who lead their own lives in this manner. 

They encounter something in their life that they don't like. Their mind extrapolates what it would feel like if they have to experience this something for a long period of time and decides that would be bad. They decide that they have to do something!

The problem is that they rarely seem to consider the reward for that action and measure it against the cost.

They react instead of respond. 

This seems to be a problem for our individuals, organizations, and even our government. 

We need to move to a society that does better at learning to live in the tension of things.  Very few things are all or nothing. Throughout life, we will face many situations that require us to sit in the tension of not liking something and the reality that we will have to just stay in those circumstances until we can utilize a measured response. 

A measured response asks some hard questions. It allows time for change to take root and grow.

May you grow your ability to sit in the tension of difficult situations.  May you move when necessary and be able to tolerate distress so that you can determine when you need to move and when you need to sit still.

Respond, my friends. Think through the possible outcomes, consider the possible costs. Learn to sit in discomfort and pursue wise choices in that discomfort.


Live in Wisdom: How do we respond well in difficult situations?

Why haven't you been _______? A common picture for 2020

I was recently asked, "Hey, why haven't I seen you at ________?" I left the place blank on purpose because it doesn't necessarily matter what you put in that blank, you probably haven't seen me in a lot of places.

Some people have asked from, what I believe, is a sincere place if I haven't been going places that we had gone regularly pre COVID because of fear.

You're afraid you're going to get the Virus?

The answer is no.

My wife and I are limiting our out of the house experiences because we feel it is wise to do so. But not for any of the reasons that have been suggested to me at this point.  Before I explain the reasons that we have chosen this approach, I'd like to share another version of it.

We have policies for all of our offices regarding the COVID-19 and our state and federal government mandates. Invariably, someone will come in and complain about some part of the policy or they will ask my opinion on the virus or our collective government's response.

Invariably, I tell them that my opinion doesn't matter.

Hear me out. As a citizen, my opinion matters, and my vote can reflect those opinions this November. My opinion matters as someone who lives here in this state and country.

But, as someone on a mission, my opinion does not matter.

What is wise?

We start with a basic question. What is wise? As a family, our basic answer to that question is whatever is right in the short term, the long term, and for legacy.  When we consider things like our current situation we ask some more basic questions to get us going.

  1. What is the likely outcome of __________ decision?
  2. What is the likely outcome if it goes badly?
  3. What happens if something happens that I'm not accounting for?
  4. How does this help me with what I am trying to accomplish?

When we run our responses and eventual actions through these lenses, we usually end up with more questions that help us navigate our decisions.

So when we run out our response to the current situation, we have policies that reflect the best opportunity for us to remain open and serve people.  That's the only opinion that matters to us as a couple and a family.

So, we don't go to a lot of big people type things. We take precautions that we believe give us the best chance to stay open and serve people.

We try to filter things through what happens if we're exposed to someone who is positive? How do we best manage that possibility and the negative outcomes that would follow that situation?

We view this as an opportunity to teach our children what it means to examine the impact of our decisions on other people. How will our client's mental health be impacted by the consequences of our decisions?

I still have opinions about this whole mess. I've had conversations with close friends whom I trust about those opinions. There is a lot of fear and anger out there to go around. My wife and I have chosen to do our best to spread kindness and grace. We've chosen to do what we can to help as many people as possible. That's our mission.

One of the core values we teach our children is that if life is going to be meaningful, it has to be about more than us.

That's true in almost every situation we find ourselves in. This situation has taken a lot from people and it is certainly happening in an extremely divisive time in our society, but wisdom is still the best course of action.

May you find wisdom in your response to these events. May you spread grace and kindness.