Essentially, I help couples learn to talk to each other in a new way. I use Gottman Method Couples Therapy to help you achieve this. Drs. John & Judy Gottman decided to take all the counseling approaches for couples and actually test what worked, and what didn’t. In the end, they discovered that most of the advice was useless. From this, they refined and established actual, measurable methods of working with couples that actually makes a difference.
Have you ever been tortured by the phrase, “Should I stay or should I go?” Discernment counseling is designed to help you make a clear and informed choice about whether you and your partner should try to stay together or not. It generally takes about one to five sessions. During this time, you won’t be solving problems or learning new skills — that’s not the point of this process. Rather, discernment counseling helps you decide whether or not to attempt one last ditch effort to save your relationship.
The key element behind anxiety and worry is an intolerance of uncertainty. Over time, our excessive worry becomes persistent, repetitive and uncontrollable. We rush around trying to find solutions, yet we never end up finding any sort of relief. We feel that worrying about the worst case scenario will make it not happen. Yet when we’re in the midst of worry, it’s a struggle as it’s so automatic and hard to stop.
Assertiveness & Boundaries
The goal of having healthy boundaries is to strike a balance between not being firm enough and being overly harsh and uncaring. The main effect of not being assertive or having poor boundaries is that it can lead to low self-esteem. If we never express ourselves or conceal our thoughts and feelings, we can feel anxious, resentful and have uncomfortable relationships. We feel like the people closest to us don’t really know us and fear that being assertive means that we’ll be too aggressive or that others will reject us or react poorly.
When you’re doing all the work and suffering all the consequences, that’s codependency in action. It’s even possible that you may feel like you’re not doing enough for your own well being and instead just putting others way ahead of yourself. Yet you never seem to get your needs met or even recognized by others, no matter how much you do. Breaking this cycle seems insurmountable, because it’s all you’ve ever known. Yet understanding how changing your relationship with yourself can enhance your relationship is the key.
Perhaps you’re noticed that recently you’re having trouble finding motivation in your life. Everyday tasks seem daunting and even your relationships are suffering. This can put you at a loss of understanding what’s wrong. Sometimes this is an issue of depression; other times it can be related to the side effects of having overly-high standards. Making a change feels daunting and you’re not sure what the path forward should be. Knowing how to navigate out of this inertia can be tricky without having someone to help you understand what’s keeping you stuck and why.
Struggling with Depression
Depression is the “common cold” of emotional disorders. It’s hard for us to admit, but we all go through periods of adjustment that can cause us to feel sad, blue, down, and unhappy. Yet we tend to forget that depressed feelings can also be important signs that something is changing in our lives. We can deny and run from them, but that is a serious mistake. It’s not uncommon for those struggling with depression to be well-functioning, capable people who “look like they’re doing well” on the outside. However, we can grow from these feelings if we take the time to look and examine what this means for our life’s journey.
“I’m my own worst critic,” we might say in a sudden moment of insight. It is very true that most of us are hard on ourselves, particularly if we get even the slightest hint that we don’t measure up in some way – in our achievements, career or study, social standing, relationships, appearance, body image, financial status, and so on. If we make even the smallest mistake, then we have a tendency to berate ourselves, and if we make a genuine medium or large mistake, then look out!
People talk about positive self-talk all the time. Logically it makes sense. Yet somehow, phrases like “I’m a good person” or “I’m worthwhile and valuable” seem disingenuous. These aspects of self-esteem lack two crucial elements: First, they’re not believable. And second, they don’t address the real question, buried down deep: We really do feel that we are unlovable, worthless, or permanently stuck because of who we are.
High Standards and Avoidance: Perfectionism & Procrastination
Stress, burn-out, and coping requires that we come to understand our own perfectionistic traits. Perfectionism forces us to take on too much, to be impatient, angry, hostile, and competitive. We feel that we must have things done a certain way. It drives us to work all the time, making it difficult to relax and have fun and relationships. After a while, this trend can sometimes lead to procrastination.
The combination of perfectionism and procrastination tend to show up in these ways: “How do I not be so hard on myself when I make a mistake?” “Do I need to lower my standards?” “I’m not happy unless everything is done the way I would do it.” “I’m so deeply bothered by things if they are not perfect.” “I know it could be better and I can’t let go of it.” “Other people are capable of doing more with their time than I am.” “How can I keep myself from dragging my feet?” “Am I approaching things in the right way?”
Verbal & Emotional Abuse
Dealing with a verbally abusive relationship can be very stressful and negatively impact one’s mental and emotional health. It is hard to understand why our loved ones want to control and dominate us. We cannot understand it because we tend to see it in our own reality rather than through their own “private logic” which is totally different from how most people view the world. It is important to learn how to be assertive and effectively set boundaries.
The ultimate goal for halting this pattern is a change within ourselves; with the knowledge that:
- I no longer have to deny the presence of anger and verbal abuse in our lives.
- I no longer have to control your anger.
- I no longer have to rescue you from the consequences of your anger.
- I no longer have to listen to your reasons for being angry.
- I no longer have to accept or extract promises.
- I no longer have to nag, preach, coax, or gesture.
- I no longer need to allow the you to verbally abuse men.
- I no longer have to be a victim of verbal abuse.
After you’ve taken all these measures, remember that you cannot force your loved one to get better. They have to make that decision themselves. All you can do is present options, offer support, and follow through with the consequences you presented. The only person you control in this life is you. Even if your loved one does get help, there will likely be many bumps along the way. Without anger as a coping mechanism, deeper issues tend to rise to the surface and must be dealt with.