Couples Therapy/Relationship Counseling
As a society, we spend thousands of dollars to learn skills for business, hobbies or physical well being. Yet, we spend very little time investing in how to love and connect with more depth and fullness.
The best relationships rest on two pillars. The first is intimacy, or the removal of distance or separation from another; and the second is energetic connection.
Together, you will learn practices that allow for more appreciation and love through intimate communication and which spark and foster the flow of energy. True connection happens when we allow ourselves to be seen. Really, truly, deeply seen.
We’ll begin with your body, mind & heart – what are you feeling, sensing and thinking about?
We can’t separate these aspects of ourselves, and will weave these elements together during our sessions.
We are all in relationship, at all times. We are not often clear as to what the real purpose of our relationships is. The real purpose for all our relationships is to become conscious of and identify the barriers we have built against true intimacy and connection, and learn practices to let go of these barriers, lovingly and patiently.
Relationships are where we can learn about love – and developing trust is a key element of this process. It may seem strange, but falling in love with the Self is an important element that must happen before we can learn to truly love another person.
You may find yourself in a negative cycle in your relationship – and no matter what you try to do to help your relationship, it seems to get worse. You may feel that your relationship is in crisis. It is not too late to reclaim your relationship and understand yourself in relation to another person in new ways.
We are often in unconscious, relational dynamics that keep us stuck in conflict patterns in our relationships. As relational human beings, we develop patterns of behaving and relating to ourselves and others. These unconscious relational patterns are often passive – without our intentional engagement or choice. Once we learn the components and practice of embodiment, we can observe and heal relational patterns that no longer serve us.
Embodiment practice invites us to slow down and notice how our whole self responds to the our partners. We notice, that when my partner says something to us, that our heart races or knots appear in our stomach. You will learn about how these relational patterns have supported you in the past – and as you learn about your responses without judgement, you can learn how to respond in a way that maintains connection without having to set aside your emotions or desires.
By acknowledging and softening, rigid patterns begin to naturally unwind and we become more connected.
At the core of my practice with individuals and couples is Embodiment – which is the coming together of body awareness, mindfulness and expression from a place of body-mind-heart connectivity. Practicing embodiment is the courageous act of becoming aware of and intentionally responding to ourselves and loved ones.
- Mindfulness is a quality of attention where we “witness” ourselves. Instead of being submerged in our experience, we take a few steps back to notice our experience with awareness of thoughts, memories, body sensations, and body movements.
- Body awareness is feeling the experience of sensation, muscle tension, breath quality, movement, gesture, use of space. Awareness disentangles the thoughts of what we think we should be feeling from the reality of what is being felt. Body awareness allows us to speak with authentic feeling in the moment to our loved ones – it allows others to feel our experience and understand ourselves better.
- Expression from a body-mind-heart connection – combining mindfulness with body awareness encourages integration inside of us. Expression and engagement with our loved ones from this place is where what you say verbally is reflected in what you express non-verbally.
Embodied relationships can be maintained from a position of control or a position of vulnerability.
In power-based relationships, individuals try to maintain a feeling of security by controlling themselves and their partners. In the process, each plays a series of roles (e.g. good provider, competent mother, successful business person). All the while, each person who plays a role is suppressing their authentic self beneath a myriad of expectations of the security-based roles, and often experiencing a sense of dullness or deadness. The roles cut you off from who you truly are, and intimacy is restricted.
I will ask you and your partner to consider some important questions:
What are your beliefs about what it means to be in relationship with another?
Are you blaming, lashing out or shutting down in your relationship?
Are you playing a role that you weren’t aware you were playing in your relationship?
What are your patterns of relating – in your relationship, in your family and in your life?
What’s working in your relationship now?
What do you hope for in your relationship?
What makes you feel alive?
The more that individuals are prepared to share all aspects of their inner world, including doubts, insecurities, pains, and fears, the more known and connected to each other they can be.
Revealing yourself is the cornerstone of an intimate relationship. Through vulnerability – being revealed to one another – increasing awareness of self and other becomes possible. The individuals in the relationship gain a sense of personal strength by revelation of the authentic self.
No matter how you feel right now, your heart is more resilient, understanding and forgiving than you know. Once you gain conscious awareness of each other’s feelings and patterns, the door is opened for learning how to resolve conflicts between you and develop greater intimacy.
When working with couples, I use various approaches including EFT – Emotionally Focused Therapy, Mindfulness, Integrated Body Psychotherapy, and Relational Psychotherapy.
When we work together, you will:
Learn How to Be Present – and speak from the heart during times of conflict – slow down, soothe yourself, and learn to soothe one another.
Transcend Your Negative Cycle & Unhealthy Patterns – so that you can heal old wounds, and understand how it repeats itself in your day-to-day life, and how to interrupt it so it doesn’t keep showing up again and again.
Learn How to Communicate Your Needs – work with a tool to help you learn to communicate what you are thinking and feeling with your partner and resolve conflicts as they happen – to Deepen Communication, Intimacy & Connection.
Practice & Do Homework – during sessions, together and on your own – to practice what you’re learning together.
Practice New Skills & Learn New Tools – understand your Negative Cycle, practice boundaries, manage day-to-day and longstanding conflict, and how to resolve & let go of the pain that you are holding on to in your relationship.
Understand How Fear Shows Up in Your Relationship, and how to learn to practice Love instead.
How to Move from Fear & Blame to Curiosity & Playfulness – and bring Forgiveness, Compassion & Understanding into your relationship again.
Understand Your Attachment Style & Your Partner – and how it may be affecting the relationship.
Understand Your Authentic Self – and how to stop playing a ‘Role’ or being on your ‘Best Behaviour’ in your relationship.
Learn About Intimacy & Sex – from a body-focused perspective, what can happen in an intimate, connected relationship.
Marriage or Co-Habitation Preparation – prepare for a committed partnership.
Learn About ‘Conscious Uncoupling’ or Co-Parenting – during/after a divorce.
Meet with each couple to learn what brings both of you to therapy, as well as to begin to understand relational patterns. We will then discuss how best to move forward in future sessions.
Meeting with each member of the couple one-on-one to learn more about them as individuals, what brought them to the relationship, and about their authentic self.
Sessions are tailored specifically for each couple, focusing on your specific needs with the goal of deeper understanding for each person and for the couple, while ultimately improving overall relationship satisfaction.
I work with couples once a week, from 5-12 sessions, over a period of weeks or months – depending on the relationship, current situation and circumstances that bring each couple to therapy. We work together for longer periods of time if couples decide they want to practice communication skills, understand about their unconscious patterns of relating, their authentic self, or for individual counseling.
Each couples therapy session is customized for each couple, because each couple is unique.
The couples intensive is a 2.5-hour session – scheduled at your convenience. Couples will take away new skills and tools to practice and a greater sense of intimacy and understanding.
This intensive is for couples who:
– Have been struggling with longstanding issues and want to a deeper understanding of what is happening for them and a path for repairing and resolving the issues together.
– Want to gain understanding and awareness of their patterns and habits in one in-depth session.
– Want to gain clarity about their relationship and what they can do now. – Are in crisis and want to know what to do next.
– Want to learn and practice important skills to improve their relationship.
– Want to decide whether to stay together or to let go of the relationship in a loving and kind way.
The more we have ‘at stake’ in a relationship, the more challenging it can be to share your feelings and to listen.
Unaddressed misunderstandings, unspoken wishes, and recurring struggle-points can become the breeding ground for ‘score- keeping’, distancing, and resentments.
A mutual pathway to connection is fundamental to identifying stumbling blocks and laying the groundwork for a dynamic, enduring primary relationship.
The intensive begins with an in-depth exploration of communication from a couples perspective. As well, a variety of breathing and body-awareness experiences help build a foundation for connection and growth. Each couple then applies their learning’s to identifying and expressing wishes, wants and preferences — and exploring the impact and possibilities of this self-definition for their relationship.
Couples will walk away from this intensive session with:
- Deeper intimacy
- Increased vulnerability
- Improved communication skills that they can bring to daily conversations
- An understanding and clarity of their patterns An understanding of boundaries and walls Skills to identify and express preferences
- An experience of the impact of right/wrong and the possibilities of agree/disagree An increase in awareness and understanding of behaviours and defenses
- A deeper recognition and transformation of entrenched family rules and patterns
Eating Disorders Therapy
As an eating disorder survivor, I have experienced many of the feelings and symptoms you may be feeling now. This allows me to have a unique perspective and can provide specific insight for those suffering with the very real symptoms of eating disorders. I connect with you emotionally and provide you with support and understanding during the healing process.
When struggling with an eating disorder, an important part of the healing process is developing a connected relationship with an understanding therapist. Right now, you may be experiencing anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. I understand.
When working together, you will understand your struggle more fully – and, how to ease it. You will also deepen your understanding of yourself, and identify your core beliefs about yourself and your relationships with others.
We will make sense of it, together.
We are all relational beings – which means we are interconnected with others, and we need secure, safe, and healthy relationships, to provide us with the freedom to be ourselves and to reach our full potential.
During our early relationships, we develop deeply ingrained techniques of connection and disconnection. Many of us have had to sacrifice important parts of ourselves in order to satisfy our need to stay connected. When we cannot be truly ourselves, we can enter a state of dis-ease which can result in illness, anxiety, a feeling of emptiness or dissatisfaction with life.
Our feelings of disconnection in relationships can impact us deeply and can affect the way that we learn to relate to ourselves and to others dramatically. This can set us up for codependency, addiction, eating disorders, destructive relational patterns, self-esteem issues and more.
In our sessions together we will try to understand ingrained patterns in a relational context, which can help you gain deeper awareness, invite self-compassion, and pave the way to new possibilities.
Painful interactions, past and present, all contribute to bad feelings and behaving in ways that don’t feel good to you today.
You will breathe, and take time to be present in your body, and to understand what’s happening for you and begin to reconnect with your body in a healthy way.
As you begin to develop more constructive behaviours within yourself, you will begin to develop supportive and enlivening relationships with yourself and with others. As negative core beliefs begin to shift within our therapeutic relationship, so too will unhelpful behaviours begin to shift in other parts of your life.
As personal patterns and your sense of self change within the therapeutic relationship, you may start noticing changes in your patterns of relating outside of the therapy room. These new experiences will give you more freedom and support than you had before and will allow for more self-expression, and a firmer sense of yourself and what you believe.
We work together in your time and pace. I will help you uncover the truth of who you are and reveal how you can live authentically within yourself and the relationships and contexts that support and sustain you.
Traumatization is part of the human experience – caused by acts of nature or acts of man. The result can be a state of psychological overwhelm; in fact, trauma has been defined as “more than the mind can bear“. At the time of the actual event, there is an intense experience of helplessness, terror and loss of control as the person is faced with overwhelming fear.
Trauma reactions can also develop as a result of the adaptation to a life of perpetual fear, such as those who have experienced chronic maltreatment in childhood or domestic violence.
Symptoms of Trauma
The onset of symptoms of traumatization may occur immediately after the event or may occur weeks or even years later. The defining symptoms consist of intrusive thoughts about the event or what could have happened, anxiety, panic, sleep disturbances, irritability, feelings of uncontrollable rage and a sense of hypervigilance. There may also be emotional numbing, depression, fatigue, a sense of detachment both from oneself and others and loss of motivation, joy and interest in one’s life.
Using somatic therapy – Somatic Experiencing, Integrated Body Therapy and other embodiment tools, we work to heighten your feelings of aliveness – to allow us to break through old, familiar feelings of ourselves to a clearer state of well-being and a truly authentic, core feeling of self. It is a transformational approach that creates a shift in our body-mind state of consciousness. This shift changes the lens in which we experience our self, others and the world.
Stress, depression, feeling “off”, disconnected or fragmented keeps us stuck in feeling our lives through a distorted lens of an old sense of ourselves. This distorted state maintains our perceptions, fears and beliefs that are unreliable now – and have been created by past emotional injuries. When we are fragmented we are unable to access states of well being, presence and a grounded sense of embodied experience. This can make life feel miserable.
We will work to sustain a body-mind integrated state of consciousness in the face of inevitable interruptions. These interruptions are artifacts of our past: old emotional injuries and how we have learned to deal with these injuries: our defensive patterns. This is where the blueprint for our current intimate relationships was formed.
Most of us live in constant states of stress or fight or flight. This compromised state limits functions such as the immune system, sexuality, digestion, elimination. It also blocks our ability to think and feel beyond survival and crisis level problems. It keeps us feeling unstable – and it is difficult to impossible to shift out of this state through the mind and reasoning alone. We need effective body-mind tools to change to states that embody clarity, well being and a deeper understanding.
Midlife Transitions, Divorce Support & Recovery
You may find yourself hurting – feeling anxious, panicked and scared. You have done all the expected things in your life, according to your best understanding of yourself and the world, and you now find yourself struggling in your life or relationships.
You find yourself asking painful questions about yourself, your relationships, and your life – and notice the discrepancy between the life you’ve sought to have, and what you feel in your private, honest moments.
I will support your journey. If you are experiencing a midlife transition or breakdown of a marriage or significant relationship, and are trying to make sense of your painful emotions, I can help.
Transitions happen when we experience a conflict between who we truly are deep down inside and who we thought we were or should be. Sometimes this conflict occurs when we are going through a divorce or when we lose our partner, and we find ourselves struggling with the conflict between old attitudes, beliefs and behaviours and the new ones that begin to rise to the surface.
You may be feeling depressed, anxious, confused, be using drugs or alcohol to cope, and notice shifts in your feelings about your job or relationships. We can help make sense of what is happening for you at this time in your life and discover a meaningful path that is focused on your life now and a way forward so that you can begin to dream new dreams.
With understanding, awareness and time, your transition can be a hopeful time of new beginnings. An opportunity to nurture your needs and ask yourself what is most meaningful for you at this time in your life.
Together, we will take time to deeply discover who you are now, apart from your relationships, the roles you have played, the jobs you have held, and what has happened before. You can take back your life and live in the love, passion and joy that you long for.
Take a step towards healing your heart, creating a beautiful new reality and feeling radiantly alive.
Family of Origin/Working with Your Shadow
Relational Trauma. It can cover a wide range of experiences between people. It covers the experience of not having your needs met by your caregivers as a child, or the experience of being bullied, and it can even describe the impact of being betrayed as an adult by your significant other.
Notice that all of these examples happen between people. I focus on those with traumas that result from being wounded in relationships.
Relational Traumas impact us deeply and can affect the way that we learn to relate to ourselves and to others dramatically. Relational Trauma can set us up for codependency, addiction, destructive relational patterns, self-esteem issues and more.
Working with clients trying to understand and break free of the unwritten rules of engagement within families is a significant area of my practice.
Some clients are working through feelings of disconnection, disassociation, numbness, co-dependency and low self-esteem.
Stepping out and breaking free of your current family patterns in order to contend with the hurt, confusion and loss that you may be experiencing, may seem overwhelming.
We all have a strong, instinctive drive for freedom and independence from our family of origin. If we don’t attain this freedom, we may feel depressed, anxious, be unable to sleep, lose sexual function and have difficulties forming or keeping meaningful relationships.
The fear, guilt, resentment and grief involved with trying to maintain unhealthy, rigid bonding within the family is a huge drain of energy. The feelings involved are also understandable.
One of the ways of healing issues related to Family of Origin trauma is to Work with your Shadow. Working with your Shadow is based on Jungian ideas about how we disown certain qualities of our personalities in childhood as a way of maintaining safety and connection in childhood. The power of this work begins with helping you gain greater clarity about the different aspects of yourself that contribute to difficult patterns in your life. Each of these parts is honored fully for the role it has played and is invited to bring its wisdom into transforming these patterns. Experiential opportunities are then offered for shifting these dynamics in your life. The series of steps in this work create a powerful and integrated foundation for deep and lasting change to occur in your life.
We work with the perspective that the ways we are most stuck in our lives often come from decisions we made early in life about how to be safe. Working with your Shadow offers an approach of honoring where these stuck behaviors come from and seeing them as an important protective aspect of ourselves. When we try to get rid of these parts of ourselves, they often hold on more tightly because they believe our safety is at stake. By understanding and honoring them, we lessen inner conflicts and learn to collaborate with them in the changes we want to make.
I help clients identify family patterns of interaction and how they can take steps towards making sustainable changes independent of familial expectations that don’t feel supportive or loving. When you do this, you will experience increased confidence, relief from the burden of feeling responsible for the feelings and well-being of family members, and happiness in new-found freedom. In time, improved contact or connection with family members may also be achieved.
I prefer the right amount of chaos.
I prefer meandering through some days without a plan.
I prefer no expectations on me, and not placing them on others.
I prefer long, slow, deep conversations that last well into the night.
I prefer fewer words, and more meaning.
I prefer joy that arises slowly from within.
I prefer being with my dog.
I prefer the mountains, the ocean and crisp, fresh air.
I prefer tea – strong, black, with the bag in.
I prefer satire, not silliness.
I prefer long walks in the woods.
I prefer warm and cool, not hot.
I prefer community, connection and authenticity.
I prefer speaking up and speaking out, not staying silent.
I prefer taking time to listen and understand.
I prefer open spaces – in my mind and heart.
I prefer being there with each other.
I prefer being, not always doing.
I prefer small groups of loving friends.
to large, noisy rooms.
I prefer holding hands and looking you in the eye.
I prefer iced tea to lemonade.
I prefer the moon.