Common English Pronunciation Mistakes in Spanish Speakers

Common English Pronunciation Mistakes in Spanish Speakers

As someone who has been teaching English to native Spanish speakers for several years now, my ear has been particularly exposed to the influence Spanish pronunciation can sometimes have on English pronunciation. I have been able to pick up on some of the sounds I often hear my students mistaking. It’s normal, English can be confusing. There’s a lot of rules, and so many exceptions, it can be a bit overwhelming when trying to learn it. There are some key differences between English and Spanish that make it even trickier. Spanish is a phonetic language, so oftentimes what you see on paper is exactly what you’ll hear being said. Unfortunately, English doesn’t work that way, most of the time the spelling and pronunciation don’t match. So naturally, Spanish speakers use their own words and phonetic rules as a crutch, and often times end up pronouncing the English word as if it were a Spanish word.

Accents and Pronunciation

Accents can be charming, it says a bit about someone’s story, it can tell you where a person is from and where they have been. You hear these things in someone’s voice and the way they piece words together. Although, certain pronunciation mistakes can change the meaning that the messenger is trying to convey, that can sometimes get someone into trouble. If you’re someone communicating in a language that isn’t your native or dominant tongue, your goal is to be an effective communicator in that language. It’s difficult when you’re making mistakes that don’t allow you to get your point across.

Why are accents difficult?

It’s normal to make pronounciation mistakes when speaking a language other than your native one, you’re making sounds you don’t normally make and sometimes having to change the structure of the way you would normally say things. Each language has it’s own set of rules and it’s rhythm, so depending on the similarities of two languages will determine the level of difficulty for pronunciation. When learning a language at school, pronunciation is often not properly taught. A lot of time is dedicated to vocabulary and grammar, and pronunciation often gets very little attention. Exposure to the verbal language is very important, you have to be able to listen and identify the sounds of a language before you can produce them. Pronunciation is a skill, it’s not knowledge, you have to practice a lot before you can actually master it.

How can working on my accent be beneficial?

Working on your accent does not only help you be better understood, it also helps you better understand. Sometimes you don’t realize you are making certain pronunciation mistakes, and that’s probably because you can’t identify those difficult sounds when you are being spoken to.

Working on your accent can help:

  • You sound clearer.
  • Increase understating.
  • Make you sound more natural.
  • Make you sound more intelligible.
  • Make you feel more confident.

What are some difficult sounds for Spanish speakers?


Consonant clusters are commonly seen in English. It is a group of consonant sounds with no vowel sounds between them. For example, like in the words splash, spoon, breakfast and worked. Depending on the placement of the consonant cluster and the combination of consonants can make pronouncing consonant clusters tricky for Spanish speakers.

  • Several words begin with the s sound in Spanish, such as in solo, sala, sentir, but when the s sound is followed by a consonant such as in Spain, school and stay they might often add a vowel sound at the beginning and are pronounced as espain, eschool, and estay.
  • Consonant clusters are sometimes seen at the beginning and the middle of a word such as in fresa, espuma, and hombre, but not at the end. Therefore, when consonant clusters are seen at the end of the word in English, such as in must, wind, and help, they might often cut off one of the final sounds and pronounce it as mus, win and hel.

Substituting the z sound for the s sound

This goes back to when I mentioned Spanish is a phonetic language. There are many words in English that are spelled using the letter s but end up making the z sound such as cousin, has, and season. These words should be pronounced like cuzin, haz, and seazon, but since there is no z sound in Spanish, Spanish speakers end up pronouncing the words as they are written.

Errores comunes de pronunciación en inglés en hispanohablantes 3

Substituting the v sound for the b sound

English makes a clear distinction in the way v and the b sounds are pronounced. You can hear this in words such as very and berry, and in vote and boat. In Spanish the v and b sound exactly the same, like in basta and vasta and in haber and a ver, the spelling is different but the pronunciation is the same. Spanish speakers tend to follow this same phonetic rule when they are speaking English.

The H sound

The letter h at the beginning of a word is silent in Spanish, for example in the words hora, huevos, and hermana. You can not hear it at all, so words in English that start with an h like in house are often pronounced with a j like in julio. Words like happy, hello and how, are often pronounced like jappy, jello, jow.

The th sound

In English the th can be pronounced in two ways like in than (voiced) and in think (voiceless). The voiceless th can be heard in some parts of Spain, but you won’t hear this sound in all Spanish speaking countries.

  • The voiced th like in words than, they and these will adopt the d, and sound like dan, day, and dis.
  • The voiceless th like in words think, thunder and thorn will adopt the t, and sound like tink, tunder, and torn.


There is the same amount of vowel letters in English and in Spanish, but there are a lot more vowel sounds in English than there are in Spanish. English and Spanish do not share any vowel sounds, which explains why a lot of Spanish speakers have a difficult time hearing and pronouncing the difference in some words, for example like in sheep and ship. Spanish doesn’t distinguish the vowels through length, they are all short. You can hear this in words like peso and piso, and in hambre and hombre, the vowel sound changes but the length stays the same. In English you have some short vowel sounds and some long ones, you can hear the differences in the words hide (long), and hid (short) and in pool (long), and pull (short) the vowel sound and the length both changes.

Errores comunes de pronunciación en inglés en hispanohablantes 4

These are a few of the most common pronunciation mistakes I often hear in Spanish speakers. That’s not to say that these are difficult sounds for everyone. It’s important to remember that having an accent is not a bad thing, but you might also want to work on you pronunciation to help you become a more effective communicator, and feel more confident when speaking. Pronunciation takes a lot of practice and exposure, and can be difficult when working on it alone. With lots of dedication and training you can change the way you sound and improve your intelligibility.

About the author

Jarrisvette, is from South, Texas in the United States. She worked as a Speech language Pathologist Assistant in Brownsville, Texas and then moved to Spain to pursue a Masters in Bilingual and Multicultural Education at la Universidad de Alcala in Alcala de Henares. She has been living in Spain for 4 years and working as an English Language assistant with a variety of ages within the school system. She is currently working as a Speech therapist at Sinews and is excited to be a part of the team.

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Is your child ready to speak?

Is your child ready to speak?

Jarrisvette Villarreal, is from South, Texas in the United States. She worked as a Speech language Pathologist Assistant in Brownsville, Texas and then moved to Spain to pursue a Masters in Bilingual and Multicultural Education at la Universidad de Alcala in Alcala de Henares. She has been living in Span for 4 years and working as an English Language assistant with a variety of ages within the school system. She is currently working as a Speech therapist at Sinews and is excited to be a part of the team.

Do you notice that your little one is not yet speaking? Are you asking yourself why? Have you done a lot of research on how to promote talking, but can’t quite make it happen? Maybe we should take a step back, and ask ourselves if they are ready to talk? Have they acquired the pre-language skills that set the foundation for words?

As babies grow, their abilities change. Babies are like sponges; they absorb so much during their first years of life. They go from newborns who mostly sleep to walking, talking toddlers. This doesn’t happen overnight; there is a lot that happens in between these two phases, called “baby steps.” Little by little, they are going through minor changes every day and learning how to become these walking, talking toddlers. We always celebrate the big changes, like them producing their first word or taking their first steps. It’s incredible to witness the little ones learning and growing, but it’s easy to overlook the minor changes. These minor changes are what lead to their walking and talking, they are the skills that build the foundation for words and steps to happen.

We know that each baby is different and develops at their own pace, so maybe not every single one of them will hit that milestone mark at the, “said age.” However, there are still certain skills that a baby should acquire before they reach that milestone. Some children might need some extra help and guidance to gain these skills.

Pre-language skills

Pre-language skills are prerequisites for speech and language. They are a set of skills that should develop alongside one another in both normal developing children and children with language disorders. These skills might not show up in the same order in every toddler, but they will show up before language emerges. These skills are what children use to communicate before they are able to form words. Pre-language skills must be consistently present, and stable in order for the child to be ready to talk.

How will I know if my child is ready to talk?

Lucky for us, Laura Mize, Speech Language Pathologist, has an awesome detailed podcast series that thoroughly describes pre-language skills. She talks about “11 skills a toddler must use before words emerge.” She helps us understand what they are, how to identify them and why they are important.

The pre-language skills mentioned in her podcast are:

  1. Responds to events in the environment: do they notice things around them? Children must be able to process things they hear and see. They must be aware of their surroundings, and react to it.
  2. Responds to people: are they interested in people? Children should interact with people. They’ll respond when you call them by name, or look for you, so you can play with them.
  3. Develops an attention span: attention spans in toddlers are typically 3-6 minutes long. They can notice something and are interested in it. They stay with it for a while and give themselves the chance to see how it works.
  4. Exhibits joint attention: they can share the moment. They can use a toy with you, and shift their attention from the toy to you.
  5. Plays with toys: toddlers learn through play and using toys. Toys are meaningful to them. Do they know how to appropriately play with the toys? For example: rolling a toy car on the ground.
¿Está tu hijo:a preparado:a para hablar? 1
  1. Understands and uses early gestures: Do they communicate with their bodies? Can they wave bye-bye, nod yes or no, follow a point?
  2. Understands early words and follows simple directions: Do they recognize names of familiar people or things they use every day? If you say “Where’s dad?” or “Do you want water?” they will understand.
  3. Vocalizes: Are they noisy? Toddlers should make intentional and purposeful sounds with their voice, before they can even speak.
  4. Imitate actions, gestures, and words: They copy what you are doing. They use a toy the same way you use it, they clap when you clap.
  5. Initiates interaction: They take the lead to try and get your attention. They want to play with you, they try to get you to look at them or grab something for them.
  6. Turn taking: They are able to play back and forth. They can roll a ball or a car back and forth.

These are the 11 skills a toddler must develop before they start talking. Each one of these skills are essential to language development. Toddlers must have these skills firmly established in order for words to flow.

You can listen to the first part of the podcast clicking here and to the second one clicking here.

How can I help prepare my child for words?

As a parent you know your child best. You know what they are able to do and what they are not. You must be able to identify if these skills are present, consistent and strong in order for language to emerge. If one of these skills is missing, or isn’t strong, those are the skills you need to target and strengthen to prepare your child for words.

Questions we should ask ourselves when trying to determine how to help our children talk:

  • Which of these skills are present in my child? Which aren’t?
  • Which of these skills show up consistently? Which of them only every once in a while?
  • Which of these skills are strong? Which need some extra work?

We must determine which of these skills need reinforcement and which ones need to be introduced. Once we know what to target, we can work with our little ones to prepare them for words.

Should we go to a speech therapist?

¿Está tu hijo:a preparado:a para hablar? 2

Some people will tell you “don’t worry words will come on their own, he/she is still young”. While that might be true sometimes, that is definitely not always the case. It’s great that you’re getting informed and learning more about how to help your child. You are the expert on your child and know them best, so if you have a gut feeling to seek help, there is no harm in that. The earlier children get the support they need, the better their outcomes.

Pre-language skills play a key role in language development. Children must go through all these skills before they start talking. If our little ones are late talkers, we must look at this list and determine what is missing, and work on those skills with them, or seek help from a speech therapist . It is important for us to not skip any steps that will lead to communication. We don’t want to push for words when our little ones aren’t ready yet. We need to set them up for success, by giving them the tools they need for language. Once we attain these eleven skills, we can focus on speaking words.

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Film review: God's Crooked Lines (2022)

The successful novel written by Torcuato Luca de Tena in 1979 has reached the big screen taking the same name of the book that has managed to hook readers since it was first published. Luca de Tena, with Los renglones torcidos de Dios or God’s crooked lines, takes us into a psychological thriller in which the reader will not be able to stop reading as questions will swirl around in his mind and he would hardly be able to leave those questions unsolved for the next reading. The film, on the other hand, engages the audience with the main character’s discourse -logical and very organised, which will generate new inquiries. Flashes from the past will make us reflect on the veracity of the facts.

Synopsis of the movie

The novel, and its eponymous film, tells the story of Alice Gould, a private investigator, who is admitted to a mental asylum on behalf of a client in order to clarify the circumstances of a murder. To do so, Alice documents herself about a mental illness, paranoia, and she pretends she is suffering from that illness. Recall that in the era in which the novel is set, wives had to ask their husbands for permission on certain things, getting Alice to trick her husband into signing the application for her admission to the sanatorium.

Throughout the pages and minutes of the film, readers and audiences will be making decisions about the reliability of what at one point seemed very obvious, the sanity of the main character of this story. But for the author of the book and the director of the film, sanity and insanity are separated by a very thin line.

Comparison with reality

According to the author of the novel himself, in order to write the book he had to voluntarily commit himself for 18 days in a psychiatric institution to be able to adjust to the reality of what was really living within those walls. Finally, in the dedication included in the book, he wants to thank the entire medical community for their work and tenacity to «straighten out» those crooked lines of God, the patients. Those patients who met himself and on whom he got inspiration from.

The main interest that this novel can generate in society lies not only in a simple leisure activity, but also in the progress that psychiatry and psychology have experienced since the time in which this thrilling story is framed. The different illnesses or conditions of the patients shown in the film and the book, bring mental health closer to anyone outside the field of health, although in some cases not in the most accurate way. The reader or the audience will be able to experience the close relationship between mind and physiology, the different techniques that were used for different disorders and even how patients were treated in these institutions. Nowadays, all of it may seem abusive or unacceptable for the audience but we shouldn’t put the spotlight on that. On the contrary, we should focus on the advances that have been experienced in those fields to preserve dignity and security of patients without depriving them of the inherent freedom to the human condition.

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Por qué acudir a un nutricionista

Why should you go to a nutritionist?

According to the regulation of healthcare professionals, a Dietitian-nutritionist is the healthcare professional legally qualified to perform diet and food-related activities for patients (always individualising the recommendations according to the physiological and/or pathological conditions), and to provide nutritional advise and treatment.

Currently, we live in the era of information, and it is becoming increasingly easier to find food-related advice and recommendations in magazines, newspapers and, of course, on the internet. However, it is very important to take into account that not all the information available out there is reliable and up to date. What it’s more, all of this flood of information is very ambivalent and what according to a source is beneficial, it appears as the opposite in a different one. This is why you can find arguments to support a position as easy as to disprove it. Hence the importance to attend a dietitian-nutritionist who will provide with individualised recommendations and always with scientific evidence.

What exactly is a dietitian-nutritionist?

It is very often that when people hear the word “Nutritionist” the first thing that comes to their mind is “lose weight” and “dieting”. However, a dietitian- nutritionist is a healthcare professional whose functions go far beyond this, as they are experts in nutrition and dietetics who not only manage the nutritional treatment in a wide variety of conditions and the nutritional approach in all the stages of life, but also the quality management, food security and, lastly, the prevention of lifestyle and nutrition-related conditions.

A Dietitian-Nutritionist will provide individualised recommendations not only considering the general situation of the patient, namely age, stage of life, associated conditions and so on, but also other personal situations, such as their culture.

When should I go to a Nutritionist and how can it be helpful?

These are some of the reasons why you should attend a consultation:

  • Change of dietary habits to help prevent lifestyle-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypercholesterolemia or hypertension, as well as contribute to the nutritional management once diagnosed. In these cases, nutrition is the first line of action, and even when pharmacological treatment is necessary, nutrition is still a key part of the treatment.
  • Specific moments in a woman’s life such as pregnancy or breastfeeding. In these stages, the nutritional requirements are increased, and it is essential to ensure an optimal nutrition intake from all macro and micronutrients.
Por qué acudir a un nutricionista
  • Nutritional approach in all different stages of life from childhood to advanced ages in both health and disease, and always considering the singularities of every different stage.
  • Infant nutrition. Dietary advice in transitioning from exclusive breastfeeding to solid foods, that is, how and when to introduce the different solids gradually. Also, with the baby-led weaning (BLW), which has been on the rise in recent years: precautions, benefits and inconvenients, which foods and how to cook them, textures and much more.
  • Optimisation of the sports performance in order to adapt recommendations according to the type of sport discipline and individual requirements as well as to assess potential needs for supplementation to enhance performance.
  • Gut disorders: fructose and sorbitol intolerance, Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), non-celiac gluten intolerance, celiac disease, Chron disease or ulcerative colitis.
  • Nutritional management in other conditions such as renal disease or cancer. Also, in hormonal problems such as hypothalamic amenorrhea.
  • Learn how to eat healthily and nutritional education. You do not have to be sick or have a specific situation to attend a Nutritionist. Sometimes a person might just want to learn how to eat better and make a habit change.
  • Vegetarian diets. Either due to animal welfare reasons, the environment or because of other personal arguments, sometimes a person decides to reduce or eliminate the animal-derived products from their diet to some extent. In any case (ovolactovegetarian, vegan…), a nutritionist can assist in making the transition progressively, and can also provide alternatives to substitute all these products for other plant-based options to make sure that all the important nutrients are covered.

In summary, our health is very important and for that reason we should always aim to find qualified healthcare professionals to always make sure that the dietetic recommendations will be coherent, evidence-based and individualised depending in the individual circumstances.

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A Superhero therapy tool kit to help your children cope with difficult situations

A Superhero therapy tool kit to help your children cope with difficult situations

Superhero therapy, is that a thing?

Janina Scarlet PhD, adapted an evidence-based therapy called Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and turned it into the superhero lover’s dream. To help children and adults manage their symptoms of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorders and other mental health conditions. ACT and Superhero Therapy’s objective is to help people learn to have a healthier, more flexible relationship with their thoughts, feelings and other significant private events. Which in turn will allow them understand who they want to be and to move towards what is truly valuable to them. 

Working on values with children can be a very challenging task given its abstract background. Asking children or teens to do what is important above all pain or discomfort might seem impossible. Fortunately, That is where superheroes come in handy. Using an ACT framework, a therapist can help a patient relate to a fictional superhero, understand that superhero’s origin story and discuss how that superhero has overcome many of their own challenges (probably social, emotional or psychologically related) by taking actions toward their values (Washington, 2019). Prompting children to connect with a superhero’s story will allow them to play with different perspectives which can help them clarify what is important to them. 

So how can we use superhero therapy in our everyday life?

Ideally, superhero therapy should be used as a guideline for evidence-based therapists to use with children or adults in session. However like Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee said, “The person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed, without a doubt a real superhero.” So grab your cape and lets bring out our superhero within.

1 – Find a superhero your children can relate to. Can you think of a superhero or a character your child can relate to? It can also be their favorite character, it does not have to be a superhero in a strict sense of the word. It can be any character in their favorite book, movie or series. It can even be a family member or a person in their life they admire. A character that might have an origin story or a struggle they can relate to. 

For example, for Dr. Scarlet it was Storm from X-Men. When she was very young, Dr. Scarlet was exposed to a nuclear explosion because she lived in a small town near Chernobyl. This had incredibly debilitating effects on her health. To make matters worse, her symptoms where heavily influenced by the weather, if it was hot outside she would get severe nose bleeds, if it was humid she would get migraines or seizures and so on. When she was twelve her family decided to move to the United States, thinking the situation would get better being away from radiation but there she faced other types of struggles. In school her new classmates could not understand what she had gone through. She had to endure intense bullying, she was called radioactive or contagious, her peers were afraid to touch her or be near her. This made her feel completely alone and depressed but it all changed when she watch X-Men. The “Super mutants” made her feel less lonely specially when she discovered Storm a superhero who could control the weather. A superpower she always wished to have since her own struggles depended on the weather. 

Is there any superhero that could make your child feel a little less alone in the world. A character they love or admire? It can be Batman, Ironman, Hulk, Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen, even a Disney princess, a character from Encanto, Frozen and anime series. Anything you can think of. 

2 – What is their superpower? Try to find out what is it that your kid loves so much about this character. What superpowers do they have. What struggles have they faced and what have they needed to overcome them. What are they like, what characteristics have hook you child to this character. This is a conversation you can have with younger children too, they might not be as clear as older children but if they tell you they like batman because he is good at getting out of trouble there are a couple of characteristics you can take away from that, like smart, problem solving, quick, strong. There is always something behind the obvious answer, this superpowers might be the window to your children’s values. 

3 – Superhero diary. Once you have found the superpowers your child looks up its important they are translated into actions. Find a way you and your child can be a little bit more like Superman, Batman, Elsa, Katniss or whoever you have chosen. To make it more fun think of them as special missions and write them down in a Superhero Diary where your child can draw or write all the things they have done like their superhero so they can come back in difficult times and remind themselves all they are capable of. 

4 – Find a Superhero Mentor. Every Superhero has a sidekick or a mentor who supports them during their missions. Batman has Alfred, Harry Potter has Ron and Hermione, Ironman has Jarvis, Katniss has Haymitch. Encourage your child to find a sidekick or a mentor it can be a family member, a friend, a pet or even a therapist or a counselor. Sinews can be a great source for counseling, we great group of child therapists that will gladly jump at the chance to be a superhero mentor. 

5 – Every superhero journey starts with a struggle. Last but not least remind your children that all superheroes have an origin story that usually involve some kind struggle. Batman lost his parents, Harry Potter not only lost his parents he had to endure the horrible family he had left, Hulk was exposed to radiation. This stories turned them into the superheroes they are, the struggles helped them develop the incredible superpowers that we all admire. So if your children feel like life is a little daunting remind them it will turn them into amazing superheroes. 


Scarlet, J. (2017). Superhero Therapy: Mindfulness skills to help teens & young adults deal with anxiety, depression and trauma. New Harbinger. 

Washington, K. (2019, April 25). What is superhero therapy?. Denver Health Blog.

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Maneras de amar, un libro para entender mejor tus relaciones amorosa

Attached, a book to better understand your love relationships

Love is, without a doubt, one of the subjects that have fascinated us most (and tortured us, in equal parts) since the beginning of civilization, but also one of the great scientific questions: how does love work and, above all, why do we fall in love with whom we fall in love? In psychology, one of the theories seeking explanations, investigating, and solving, in part, these enigmas is the attachment theory.

The beauty of this theory is that if we know our attachment style, we can also resolve some of the love contradictions we fall into and make better romantic decisions. For example, «Why is it that if, in general, I consider myself a confident person, the moment the guy I like behaves distantly with me, I feel terrible and like I’m worthless?». Perhaps someone else is wondering: «I normally have no problem falling in love, but why is it that when the relationship becomes steady, I start to find they have too many flaws and decide to break up quickly?»

First, let’s put this theory in context: Initially, the study of attachment was not related to romantic relationships but to the bond that arises between infants and their parents or affectionate caregivers. In 1958, Bowlby, an English psychiatrist working in a hospital with children, coined this term when studying the effects of the mother-child relationship on the infant’s cognitive, emotional, and social development. Even if their physical and nutritional needs were met, the babies who had been prematurely separated from their mothers (because, for example, they were orphans during the Second World War) suffered serious consequences in their cognitive development due to the absence of contact with their attachment figure.

Thanks to this theory, we learned that when we are born, we need the protection of an adult to meet our physical needs – such as food and shelter – but, above all, we need the bond to feel loved, cared for, and comforted when our nervous system and stress response are activated.

It was not until much later, in the late 1980s, that Cindy Hazan and Philip Shaver helped us understand that the need for attachment is not unique to children. The security we feel or don’t feel in our romantic relationship also awakens our attachment styles. To put it simply, the bond created in our relationship with our parents functions as the blueprint for understanding our expectations in our future intimate and social relationships.

In this book, ‘Attached’ by Levine and Heller (2010), they take an in-depth look at how our attachment style influences the romantic decisions we make.

As children, people with a secure attachment style learned that the world was a stable, predictable place. They felt they could trust the people around them to be available whenever they needed them. That is why they tend not to feel much doubt in their romantic relationships. They feel comfortable showing themselves vulnerable to the person they love. In general, they feel deserving of such affection.

In contrast, people with an anxious attachment style grew up in an environment in which their physical and emotional needs were met ambivalently or intermittently: at times, they were there to care for them, and their affectionate caregivers understood what they needed, and at other times, they were not there or did not feel available to them. As we know, infants’ primary goal is to ensure their proximity to their attachment figure. That’s why children with an insecure-anxious attachment developed a very adaptive strategy to achieve this: to get even closer to their attachment figure especially when their caregiver moved away. As an adult, if you identify with this style, you probably criticize yourself a lot. When the person you like is distant or ambivalent, their attitude generates a lot of anxiety within you. To calm yourself down, you seek to get even closer to them. Please do not criticize yourself or call yourself «desperate» remember, in the past; this was an adaptive way to survive.

People with an avoidant attachment style learned that their caregivers might reject them or be distant from them. Therefore, they learned to rely only on themselves and not count on anyone else because if they were too trusting, they were afraid of being hurt later on. In their romantic relationships, they say they want intimacy and closeness, fall in love easily, and have no difficulty having intimate sexual relations. However, as soon as they deepen a relationship, they are afraid of losing their independence and become distant.

This book helps us identify our attachment styles and, from that knowledge, to take steps to find relationships that «heal» us. Specifically, it explores in depth the affective needs that each style possesses. For example, people with an anxious attachment style will need frequent contact, stability, clarity about what the other person feels, etc. Having these needs is valid, and more than that, it is essential to be aware of them and seek romantic relationships that are aligned with those needs. If we validate our own needs and communicate them openly, we will observe how our partner reacts and if they are ready to meet our needs (or not). From there, it will be easier to decide to prioritize relationships with people who offer us a secure base and transmit the affection and trust we need so much.

In ‘Attached’, we can have a first approach to attachment theory and how it influences our romantic relationships. But, in this book, several issues are left out; for example, the book does not reflect examples of LGTBQ+ relationships. Nor does it attempt to explain how attachment styles would influence polyamorous or non-monogamous relationships.

In any case, I think this book is an excellent start to reflect on your romantic choices and catch yourself on toxic patterns before they happen.

Good luck on this journey finding healthier relationships!

Lucía Largo
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Lucía Largo
Adults and adolescents
Languages: English and Spanish
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Movie Review: The Break-up (2006)

Movie Review: The Break-up (2006)

“The Break-Up” is an ideal movie to understand the inner workings of relationships. It is about Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) and Gary (Vince Vaughn), a couple who decide to put an end to their relationship after some years together, which then leads to a series of circumstances: the fight for who keeps the apartment they shared, and later, the way they both go through this breakup.

A scene that is key happens at the beginning of the movie, where the couple has an argument over superficial matters. Brooke accuses Gary of not helping her wash the dishes, and then continues saying that he never buys her flowers or takes her to the ballet. Gary then responds in a frustrated manner, saying he feels like nothing is ever good enough for Brooke and that she will never be happy with it.

This kind of argument can often happen within relationships, and there are times where the couple may not realize the message that is behind the superficial talk.
Within this couple’s dynamic we can observe how one’s thoughts and actions can feed into the other person’s, and viceversa, therefore creating a vicious cycle (or how we call it in therapy: circularity). In this case, if we reduce this dynamic to a simple mechanism, we would see it this way:

Brooke thinks “Gary doesn’t appreciate me”, therefore she feels like she isn’t valued, frustrated and demotivated. Consequently, she tells Gary that he doesn’t do anything for her. This leads to point number 2.

Gary thinks “Whatever I do, Brooke will never see it as enough”, therefore he feels incapable, frustrated and defensive. Consequently he doesn’t try to do things that Brooke would like. And this leads to point number 1.

Within this circularity, it would be necessary to make changes in order to create a new and healthier dynamic.

Moreover, later we see how Brooke does just this, by communicating exactly what she was meaning to get across in the first argument: she doesn’t feel valued or appreciated by Gary. In fact, we can see how Gary is much more receptive to this kind of vulnerable and direct communication, and therefore doesn’t act defensive because he doesn’t feel like it is an attack.

All in all, this romantic comedy is a tool that can show us how a relationship can become complicated due to dynamics that they can get stuck in and can tend to become chronic. But it can also show us how a small change in the dynamic can open new doors towards change and evolving within the relationship.

You can see the clip of the fighting scene here:
The Break-up Movie (2006)

Alexia Kelsey Roncero Penistone
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Alexia Kelsey Roncero Penistone
General Health Psychologist
Adults, adolescents, couples and families
Languages: English and Spanish
See Resumé

Queridos Reyes Magos

Dear Santa...

As the song says: «Santa Claus is comming to town!» Another year of crossing off his wish list and wrapping packages. Few things are as magical as seeing the excitement in their eyes when they wake up on Christmas morning and see all the presents under the Christmas tree.
However, while we love to satisfy their desires, we would also like them to learn by playing. Many families have asked us for our professional opinion on this topic. That’s why we’ve dedicated a blog post to a short list of games that are both fun and help stimulate their cognitive functions.
  • LINCE (Lynx): We start with an ideal game to stimulate the selective attention of the little ones of the house. It consists of a round board with images and cards on which only one image appears. The game consists of removing a card and finding the image that appears on it as quickly as possible. The first one to find it wins the round. Ideal for an afternoon with the family! (4-7 years old).
  • CUBEEZ: Imagine a hybrid between Mr. Potato and a Rubik’s cube and you will get a glimpse of how Cubeez works. Each player has three cubes with different eyes and mouths. The player who can create the face on the card first wins the game. In addition to having a fun time, we will get to work a variety of cognitive functions such as visual selective attention, spatial orientation and fine motor skills.
    (From 6 years old).
  • JUNGLE SPEED KIDS: The children’s version of this classic board game is perfect to stimulate the reflexes and visual memory of the little ones. The objective of the game is to remember the position of the animal cards in order to form as many pairs as possible and save them from the lion’s claws. The winner is the player who has managed to turn over the most pairs. Another interesting aspect of this game is that it will allow us to work on behavioral inhibition, since when a player picks up two cards and they do not have the same animal, he/she cannot participate in the game until it is his/her turn again. (From 5 years old).
  • CONCEPT KIDS: This game is, without a doubt, one of the most recommended for working on concept formation and abstract reasoning. The objective is to get the rest of the players to guess an animal by pointing out the icons that appear on the board. One of its main advantages is that it does not require the use of verbal language or the learning of reading. Therefore, it is ideal for children from 4 years old.
  • ANIMAL ON ANIMAL: A version of the classic Jenga adapted for children, which will test their concentration and visuospatial skills. It is one of those basics that never goes out of fashion, getting the whole family. (From 4 years old).
Board games are a wonderful way to spend quality time with our children, because what they will remember when they grow up is not that fascinating toy Santa brought them, but all those special moments we spent as a family.
Written by Alba Ferrero.

What can we do if we are told that a family member has cancer?

What can we do if we are told that a family member has cancer?

Receiving news as serious as the illness of a family member is often an event with enormous destabilizing potential. This fact becomes even worse if we talk about cancer, since this disease carries with it an enormous stigma as it is socially considered a fatal condition, although in practice it is not always the case.
Many people, once the initial shock of the news has passed, then to ask themselves if there is something they can do for their family member, but many times the question arises of how a person can be helped in this situation at all.

As we discussed earlier in posts on this topic, talking about cancer in general is misleading, since this disease, depending on the location, size and health status of the patient can be as harmless as to have practically no complications (in cases of rapid detection and intervention), or as terminal as being inoperable and deadly.

In any case, many of the things we can do for people who suffer from this disease are the same regardless of the degree of severity of their condition, so we are going to make certain points and then mention special cases.

1) Understand what kind of help our family member needs: We all have a way in which we like to be comforted, some people need physical contact, it calms them and makes them feel better, but other don’t stand it and may feel uncomfortable with it. In the same way, there are people who appreciate regular interaction and being checked on to see how they are doing, and there are those who prefer to have their own space and time alone to manage the wave of emotions that comes with this type of news. Since we cannot read the minds of the people we live with, there is a little trick that almost always works: Ask!
Giving space to our familiar, and asking questions like: “is there anything I can do to help you?”, “Would you rather we talk about this often, or do you think it would be better for you to deal with this on your own?” “Would it make you feel better if we made plans more often?” are great ways to empower the person we speak to. We allow them to manage the interactions they have in the way that is easiest for them, and we also have the certainty that we are helping.

2) Be attentive to intense emotional reactions: It is very normal that after receiving news of this caliber, emotions can overtake the person who listens to them. The emotions that someone may feel can be really varied; sadness, shame, guilt for not having acted before, anxiety, fear, anger and many more. Sharing the burden of these emotions (always at the pace the affected person sets, as mentioned before) always makes them easier to manage. In addition, normalizing these types of emotional reactions and accompanying the person who suffers them is never a bad option.

3) Pay attention to distorted thoughts: When we suffer waves of intense negative emotions, they often bias our way of thinking and we can end up having thoughts that are somewhat dramatic, illogical and somewhat extreme. It is not uncommon to meet people who think that what happens to them is a punishment for something they did wrong, that their life no longer has meaning, or that others cannot help them at all. Helping patients eliminate these thoughts is the job of a psychologist, but sometimes simply being aware that they exist and are negatively affecting us helps reduce the effect they have on us.

In some cases, unfortunately, cancer is terminal, and although the previously mentioned shows of support are just as important, these cases have a particularities to them.

It is worth mentioning that in the face of death many times people re-evaluate their life and consider how it has gone, what they could have done differently, etc. This is a natural and desirable process, in which the accompaniment of a professional will always help.

Even so, there is an element that usually gives meaning to the last moments of the life of a person in the terminal phase, and it is the opportunity to say goodbye to their loved ones. Many people who die naturally do not have the opportunity to say goodbye to family and friends, and sometimes this is something that takes its toll to the point of complicating the grief of those close to them. However, expressing emotions, desires and affections while still can help both the sick and their families to move on and face the end in a less painful way.
There are always last wishes and actions to take, and it is at these times that patients have the option to do so.

Cancer is an increasingly studied and understood disease, and there are already many professionals in both oncology and mental health (psycho-oncology) who dedicate their lives to helping people who suffer from it. Accompaniment in these moments by qualified personnel can always be a relief that allows to lighten the burden of such a difficult moment for those who need it.

Sinews, Hacemos Fácil lo Difícil
Sinews MTI
Multilingual Therapy Institute
Psychology, Psychiatry and Speech Therapy
Clinic Appointment

el maltrato en la pareja

Intimate partner violence

Intimate partner violence (IPV) consists in any act of physical, sexual, emotional or financial violence exerted by one member of the couple in order to achieve total control over their partner.

It is considered one of the most widespread forms of violence against women, and according to Spain’s government, a 14.2% of the female population has suffered physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner. It is difficult to ascertain the real percentage of IPV cases, since the fear of retaliation, lack of support and stigma, hope that their partner would change, or lack of knowledge on how to get help, prevent people from reporting it. This is particularly frequent in cases of emotional abuse, where the violence is harder to see or prove.

What are the types of abuse committed during IPV?

We can organize violent behavior in four different categories, depending on the type of abusive act that is used to corner the person into submission.

  • Physical abuse: This type of violent behavior is aimed at inflicting pain, fear and humiliation through the use of punches, kicks, burns, hair pulling, strangulation, shoves, or any other form of physical abuse. Other methods used by the abuser are threatening to kill or hurt with a weapon, destroying household items (punching walls or doors, hurling objects…), forcing to consume substances or alcohol, driving recklessly, abandoning the person in dangerous places to “teach them a lesson”, preventing the person from getting medical assistance, or not allowing the person to leave the house.
  • Sexual violence: Any act consisting on forced sexual interactions, either through the use of direct physical force, threats or manipulation; or any non-consensual degrading sexual act performed during intercourse. Other forms of sexual abuse can be using demeaning sexual remarks in private or public settings; insisting on having sex even when the other person feels tired/sick; including a third party in a sexual interaction without consent; filming or photographing the person in sexual situations without their knowledge, or using the material to threaten and manipulate; or not considering the person’s feelings during sex.
  • Emotional abuse: The use of verbal violence, shame, guilt, disdain, isolation and intimidation to undermine the person’s self-esteem and instil feelings of fear, insecurity and helplessness. This type of violence is the most difficult to prove and detect, but also the most widespread and insidious. The use of insults; the constant criticism or devaluation of the other person’s personality, physical appearance, hobbies, actions or abilities; spying the person’s physical movements or communication with other people; ridiculing the person in public or private settings; using the silent treatment or giving the cold shoulder to punish the person; gaslighting in order to disorient and confuse, make the other person believe they are crazy or minimize the abuse; isolating the person from their family/friends/loved ones by sabotaging relationships or the use of jealousy and distrust; threatening to hurt or kill loved ones, pets or oneself are other examples of psychological violence.
  • Financial abuse: The use of income, savings or money to control and manipulate the person. The abuser will try to create a sense of total financial dependence in their partner through the control of the couple’s monetary resources; stealing from the other person, or using their money without their permission; impeding access to their salary or savings; or impairing the person from getting a job or education.

How can i tell if I am suffering from IPV?

Most of the time, abusive situations are hard to identify or detect; particularly if emotional abuse is playing a main role in the relationship, as it is usually subtle and hard to pinpoint. Another reason why we might not be fully aware it is happening to us, is the abuse always occurs gradually. Small painful acts that are easy to disregard are slowly normalized within the relationship, which eventually allows for more blatant forms of violence to occur unnoticed. Lastly, human beings tend to protect themselves from harmful or harsh realities. The person might minimize or deny the abuse is occurring in order to avoid the pain and shock of being aware the person they might love the most is knowingly tormenting them with the direct intention of subjugating and controling them.

In order to ascertain if we are being victims of any form of abuse or intimate partner violence, we can observe common behaviors of people who have been through this type of violence and compare them to our own. Victims often hide things from their partners in order to avoid an explosive fit of rage; they might avoid expressing a difference in opinion to their partner for fear of being ridiculed; be wary to contradict the other person to avoid a negative or violent reaction; they might have lost the confidence in their decision making, or the sense of control in their own actions and lives; they avoid to talk to or spend time with friends or family members for fear of their partner’s reaction of disapproval, jealousy or anger; accept to have sexual intercourse without wanting to in order to avoid conflict or tension; tolerate invasions of their privacy, such as the access to their devices and communications with other people; find themselves asking their partner’s permission (not opinion) to do things; be in constant fear of making any mistake that might spark their partner’s anger; suffer from feelings of worthlessness; feel unable to make decisions over their own life, the people they see, how they dress, or how they spend time.

Another way to identify if we are being subjected to IPV is identifying the psychological damage that it generates. The impact of sustained abusive behavior by a partner includes the destruction of one’s self-esteem, chronic stress, sleep and eating disturbances, substance or alcohol abuse, social isolation, apathy or depression, abrupt changes in mood, suicidal ideation and hopelessness, headaches or gastrointestinal problems, constant feelings of shame, guilt or insecurity, and the loss of trust in one’s ability to function as an adult.

How can I cope with the psychological impact of abuse?

One of the ways we can recover from the damage suffered in the context of intimate partner violence (after we have ensured our physical and emotional safety) is to receive counseling or support through psychotherapy. The main goal of treatment will processing the emotional trauma in order to understand, accept and leave it behind. However the restoration and bolstering of our self-esteem and self-confidence will also be a cornerstone of treatment; in addition to working on the symptoms derived from the abuse such as anxiety, depression or substance use.

Inés Zulueta Iturralde
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Inés Zulueta Iturralde
Adults and adolescents
Languages: English and Spanish
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