All intimate relationships can be challenging and involve conflict. Depending how conflict is processed, a relationship can do one of two things. Ideally, it will act like a mirror – highlighting areas for your own growth. Or it can evolve into a place where we reenact our past hurts or trauma. This results in a relationship that tends to feel stuck. You and your partner may experience the same fight repeatedly, and not know how you got there. Conflict can trigger a dialogue into all past and unresolved hurts you have experienced. Over time, communication feels dangerous and attempts to try and sort through problems only seem to exacerbate them. Sound familiar? I get it.
The Role of Communication Skills
I can certainly help clients develop better skill for communication – such as how to verbalize an apology, the steps for empathic listening, or how to ask for what you need. However, it is virtually impossible to integrate these skills when we are triggered or in a reactive state. As such, the most important work in relationship counselling involves understanding the pattern or dance between you, and how this pattern is related your own individual ways of reacting to hurts. Some of us our prone to shut down, avoid conflict or become defensive. Or we might attack, blame, or shame our partners. By noticing and working to shift the pattern of conflict in real time in our sessions, I aim to help you feel more understood by your partner, as well as help you to better understand their experiences. The goal first and foremost is to reestablish emotional safety and connection so you can better sort through problems in your relationship – and use those communication skills.
What Should We Expect?
When working with relationships, my client IS the relationship – the very thing that has been co-constructed between you. That means I work to ensure you both feel safe and heard as individuals in our shared space. While I do not take sides, I am not neutral. Relationship counselling involves direction and guidance, and I do so with the utmost compassion that each of you is showing up to the relationship in your best available capacity.
Common issues I work with in relationship therapy include the following:
- Processing infidelity or a betrayal
- Stuck patterns in communication
- Differing family/relationship values
- Decision to separate or divorce
- Parenting together in a blended family
I rely on training in:
- Gottman Couples Therapy Levels I and II
- Emotion Focused Therapy for Couples Level I
- Trauma-Informed Stabilization Treatment (TIST)
- Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Level I
- Narrative Therapy Level I
How do we get started with Relationship Therapy?Contact Michelle
- I will request to have contact with all parties in the relationship to obtain consent to set up the initial appointment.
- I will send you separate paperwork to complete prior to the appointment. This is confidential and provides me with an understanding of your experience in your relationship, as well as your individual goals for counselling.
- My client is your relationship. At times, individual sessions can be a benefit to the relationship – when all parties consent to these sessions. We work together to create a plan to best support the unique needs of your relationship.