Relationship Counselling

I want to help couples and families understand one another as individuals as well as see how the system they are in may be contributing to the problems they are facing. When two people get together they bring a lot of their own histories and personality traits to the relationship, and as you add more people to that relationship, as in families, you can imagine the complexities.

Marriage | Couples | Relationship

In our work together we will work on three main areas:

Interactional Dynamics (aka, The Dance)

A major area that is not easy for couples to see is the unhelpful ways in which they interact around sensitive issues. It is often called a “dance” because this analogy works so well to depict the “I step forward while you step back” idea.  There is a term called negative feedback loops that are ways in which couples continue on in perpetuating what each does not want.  To put it more simply, many couples need to change the dance steps they are engaged in to another dance step that allows them to interact in ways that bring about what they want in the relationship.  It is this back and forth and around in circles that makes couples feel so stuck.  Example: Every time Lisa criticizes Tom for not being more helpful around the house, Tom withdraws further from Lisa and helps out less.  Lisa only nags because she really wants to feel closer to Tom, but the strategy she uses only pushes him further away. Tom also wants to be closer to Lisa but feels that her nagging is like a brick wall and therefore does not help out, helping to build the wall.  Tom and Lisa are dancing but never getting their needs met.

Unfinished Business (aka, The Past)

Often times, it is not just the dance step of the other that Partner X does not like but what that dance step triggers for he/she.  Most of the time couples are not aware of how old wounds are getting rubbed, and that not all the pain that causes their reactions has to do with their partner. Some of it does, but the over-reactions and under-reactions mostly have to do with the past.  It is this fine balance of taking responsibility for our own pain from the past and expressing discomfort to our partners. We do not do a major archeological dig into your past for countless hours.  We connect emotional reactions to the real source so that it is not clouding relationship issues.

Feeling Safe (aka, The Attachment)

It is my belief that couples are only ever fighting because they do not feel safe. We will discuss attachment in adult relationships and why feeling safe is so important. We need to feel that we can trust and count on the other person to meet our needs, to be there to hold us, both literally and figuratively, and to ultimately value and respect who we are.  If we do not feel this then the less we risk or the more we fight for it.  We fight for the other to care, to value, to love, to fulfill our needs.  When both partners are focusing on creating safety for the other then you have a very secure and healthy relationship.  We will explore what each partner needs in the relationship in order to feel safe – it is often different for each partner but sometimes very similar.

Every relationship is different. We will get to know your relationship, what your values are, and what you want to get out of therapy.

I am committed to working on long term growth for families or couples, as well as short term problem solving.