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Relationships

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Are you struggling to feel heard and connected to your loved ones?  Do  you have difficulty communicating with friends and family when you need their support and understanding?

Learn to communicate clearly and show respect for yourself and others without defensiveness and conflict.  Learn to meet your needs to connect, have fun, enjoy a sense of belonging, and share life’s meaning and purpose with partners, family, and friends.

In providing support for people who need help developing healthy relationships, I draw on a number of tools.  These include Sue Johnson’s Emotionally Focused Therapy, Gottman Method Couple Therapy, and cognitive behavioral strategies such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)

EFT draws on specific theories and methods including attachment theory, Gestalt therapy, person-centered therapy and systemic therapy.  While emotions are an important aspect of our ability to adapt and thrive, they can also get in the way of our relationships if we’re unable to handle emotions.  EFT focuses on using maladaptive emotions. when they arise in therapy, as a starting point for transformation of negative energy into compassion and connection.

Research reveals EFT to be one of the most effective methods of couple’s therapy.  Authoritative studies with more than twenty years of research show that 70-75% of couples recover with this method, and 90% show significant improvement.  This approach has also been used successfully with families.

Gottman method couples therapy

In 2007, Dr. John Gottman was recognized as one of the ten most influential therapists of the previous twenty five years.  The method that he teaches is based on thirty-five years of research with couples in the “Love Lab” where he and his partner Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman have studied couples.  They’ve found that highly successful couples have a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative responses to each other.   The focus in Gottman therapy is on emotion, skills for managing conflict, skills for managing friendship, and creating shared meaning.  The theory defines four destructive emotional reactions that are signs of a relationship in serious trouble.  They include criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling, and contempt.  Therapy includes identifying these issues – and learning tools for overcoming each area of concern.

Through the Gottman method a couple can learn to build on seven areas to create a sound relationship: love maps; shared fondness and admiration; turning towards each other instead of away; a positive perspective; managing conflict; making life’s dreams come true; and shared meaning.    These are all areas that would be assessed and built upon using Gottman tools and methods.

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)

It’s human nature to desire love, acceptance and connection with meaningful people in our lives.  ACT focuses on the core principle that when we accept that which we can’t control – other people’s behaviour, for instance – and commit to action that improve our lives, we maximize our potential for a full and meaningful existence.  When couples clarify values and goals together, and apply the following core principles to their lives, the love and acceptance that we all desire can flourish.

  • The skill of Mindfulness is taught to support our ability to deal with painful emotions and focus on our intentions. Mindfulness is a state in which we are more fully present right here and right now.
  • Defusion supports our ability to detach from unhelpful thoughts, instead of getting lost in and caught up in them.
  • Acceptance supports us to open up to painful feelings in ways that give us compassion, allowing distressful emotions to move through consciousness without draining our energy.
  • The Observing Self is the part of the mind that is aware of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours moment to moment. Mindfulness skills build this capacity.
  • Values are what you deeply cherish in life. Through clarifying what is really important and meaningful to you and those you love,  these values become a guide for the intentions and commitments you make.
  • Committed action occurs when you use your values to guide your actions, even when it’s uncomfortable.

 

I would encourage you to contact me to arrange for a free 20-minute consultation in person, by telephone, or secure video.  At that time you may share any concerns or ask any questions that you might have.

“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction.”

—Antione De Saint-Exupery
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