Thursday, July 23, 2015

The 3 Keys to Creating Intimacy

Do you long for love, acceptance and connection, but don’t know how to create it? Intimacy can get lost when we forcefully to pull it toward us.

In creating intimacy, communication is paramount, but any related issues can often be misinterpreted. Often times, the communication issues have more to do with a self-awareness problem. They are in touch with their anger, blame and perceptions of their partner, but not connected to the tender feelings and longing beneath the criticisms and accusations. They are not skilled at communicating their authentic experience in a sensitive and respectful way.

There are three keys to creating intimacy in any relationship:

1. Authenticity
When we are authentic, love and intimacy have a much greater opportunity to grow. The evasion of our feelings through emotional defense mechanisms drives people away.  Authenticity requires us to tend to our feelings and experiences, allowing us to open up and be vulnerable to our partner. Being authentic means to take the elevator down inside ourselves in order to notice whatever we are currently experiencing.

Anger, blame and analyzing others often mask the sadness, fear, shame and longing to connect in a deeper way. Founded by Dr. EugeneGendlin, Focusing is a method of getting in touch with your felt inner experiences. Rather than speaking from the rational mind, individuals delve into their deeper emotions, getting in touch with their genuine feelings.

3. Application
Emotional transparency is conducive to intimacy. Taking the time to uncover your authentic feelings and conveying those feelings verbally to your partner helps couples to develop deeper connections.

Finding the courage to contact and convey this deeper experience with the help of a couples therapist is the key to resolving conflicts and creating the climate for richer, more vibrant intimacy.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

5 Tips to Conquer Summer Depression

Everyone’s excited about the fantastic weather.  The sky is gorgeous, flowers are beginning to blossom, invites to parties and barbecues are on the horizon, and people appear to be smiling more!  Happiness seems to be all around.  Hooray!  Summer is here!

Unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) causes depression within individuals as seasons change, typically occurring as the days get shorter and colder (A.K.A. Winter).  According to Dr. Ian Cook, director of the Depression Research Program at UCLA, this can also occur in the summertime. In fact, the onset of summer triggers SAD in 10% of the population.

Now, for those of you that love the summertime, you may wonder why warmer weather would cause depression. Here are a few possible causes:

  • Holiday Travel – Taking some time to ‘kick back and relax’ can be extremely expensive. The added financial stress can put a major strain on both individuals and their loved ones.

  • Low Self Esteem – After months spent indoors with minimal physical activity, those who have gained weight may become self-conscious of their bodies.

  • Heat – Rays of sun beaming down in full force can be difficult for some people. To avoid the heat and humidity, they may take refuge in the comfort of their air conditioned homes. This can cause those individuals to fall out of their regular routines by skipping walks, ordering unhealthy fast food because it’s too hot to cook, allowing themselves to become consumed by T.V. and more.

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Here are 5 tips to conquer your depression:

1. Seek Help – Being proactive about your emotional state is of the utmost importance. Even if your depression is only seasonal, the reoccurring impact can be devastating to you and your family. Find a therapist or counselor to help you come up with a viable solution.
2. Get More Sleep - Summer barbeques and late night parties result in shorter nights with less sleep. Make an effort to get to bed by 10pm, which not only helps your mental health, but your physical as well.
3. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise – Stay active! If it’s too hot, adapt your schedule accordingly by working out earlier in the morning or later at night when it’s cooler out. It may also be worth investing in a gym membership (if it’s air conditioned!)
4. Protect Yourself – With all the activities that come along with summer, you may be feeling overwhelmed. Make sure to keep enough time open for yourself. If you had planned to host a family barbeque but simply cannot find the time to accommodate, ask a relative to host it instead.
5. Think About It - Everything has a cause and effect. What is the reason that you deal with summer depression year to year? Do you associate summer with a difficult time in the past (a break-up, the death of a loved one, etc.)? Uncovering your unhappy connection with the summer and sorting out your issues can help you break the cycle.

Just because the calendar says it’s July doesn’t mean that you have to be happy. Comparing your feelings to the feelings of people around you is an unhealthy measure. Instead, focus on what triggers your feelings of depression and develop a plan to overcome it.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Do I really need to be Empathetic?

If you want to have a fantastic relationship with your partner, empathy is paramount.   It’s what’s lacking in many couples that I’ve helped.

First let’s define exactly what empathy is.   It’s likened to getting inside someone’s head and understand what they’re thinking and feeling in THEIR world, not yours.  It doesn’t mean you have to agree – just understand.  You’ve heard the expression ‘walk a mile in my shoes’ – that’s empathy.

Relationships are likened to a ‘dance’.  Together you move as one.  It feels awesome!  How easy would that be with someone as stiff as a board?  Two left feet?  No rhythm?  We can liken this to a person without empathy.

When you show empathy to another, you’re creating a strong bond that will help you get through the tough times.  Without empathy your partner will distant themselves from you.  They don’t feel listened to or understood.  You’ll be left wondering what went wrong.

Carl R. Rogers* explains nicely how showing empathy is a sign of strength of character, not weakness

“….you lay aside the views and values you hold for yourself in order to enter another's world without prejudice… means that you lay aside yourself and this can only be done by a person who is secure enough in himself…..  Perhaps this description makes clear that being empathic is a complex, demanding, strong yet subtle and gentle way of being.” 

In my practice, I’ve successfully guided individuals to develop empathy in their relationship. Do you need to develop more empathy in your relationship(s)?

* Dr. Carl R. Rogers, the creator of client-centered counseling, student-centered education, and person-centered approaches to human relations and community building is arguably the most influential American psychologist of the 20th century (

Friday, April 3, 2015

Golden Years - Time to Reconnect

Ah, it’s finally here!  Kids have moved out and doing their own thing.  You knew this time would come.  All your ideas to renovate the house, go on long overdue trips, relax and enjoy the house without interruptions!  Yes!  It’s now ‘our time’.

You've been together for over 25 years! Gone through all the ups and downs of raising your children.  Worked so hard to give your kids the best education and opportunities possible. 

But who’s that person sitting across from you at the kitchen table?  Their face is familiar, so is their routine.  For over 25 years you've lived with this person.  But do you really know your partner?  Not really. 

How could this have happened?  How can you live with someone for so long, and when it’s just you two sitting at home – you haven't a clue what to say? 

Where did your relationship go?  Often we get so focused on the details of living, raising a family, preparing the kids for life, that we forget to put quality energy into our marriage relationship.  At the end of our work day we’re cooking, driving the kids to their after school events, helping them with homework, laundry (and the list goes on) we were just too tired to even notice that we didn't spend quality time with each other.  

You stopped talking about what was important to ‘us’.  In fact, there is no ‘us’.  You forgot to safeguard your relationship. You stopped sharing your dreams, or even having them!  You stopped talking, sharing and having fun together.

So here you are.  Sitting across from your long-time partner with nothing to say.  Worse yet, no idea how to begin.  But begin you must, because you want this time in your life to be exceptional!   You both worked so hard to get to this point.  

Yes, it’s that empty nest syndrome.  Never thought it would happen to you, but it has. 

So what should you do?  How do you proceed?  You’ve taken the most productive step forward by searching for help. 

I understand what you're experiencing and I will help you and your partner reconnect emotionally.  It’ll be better than dating!

Monday, February 16, 2015

How Couples Counselling (EFT) can help You

Longing to have the close connection that you had in the early days of your relationship?

Couples start out loving, but when things go wrong, they very often end up angry, insecure, distant or numb.  All couples fight about money, sex, the kids, etc….all the little things that feel so stupid to argue about.  But there is more to it than these issues, something underlying that is hard to figure out or know how to fix.  What are these things “deep down” that are so hard to define?

We believe there is a common theme that lies beneath all relationships, struggles-the need to feel connected, safe and secure in the arms of your lover.

IN spite of loving one another, you and your partner can get caught up in unhealthy communication or behaviour or patterns to the point of feeling completely stuck in the same arguments time and time again.  Or perhaps you avoid difficult conversations because you are afraid of starting a fight.  Both patterns increase tension and conflict in your relationship.  As therapists, we find that most couples are trying to solve their problems without a safe, secure connection.  But it most often leads to more of that “dance” of negativity which has engulfed the two of them.

My training in Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples makes having an emotional safe environment a priority in my office.  Once you feel safe to open up to your partner, the cycle is broken and a new emotional connection emerges.  You will begin to feel the intimacy and trust grow as you speak about your deepest needs.

Regardless of the state of your relationship, EFT can help you break out of the old negative patterns for good.  It allows couples to move from painful disconnect to a new way of understanding themselves and each other- viewing your partner as a safe haven and a secure base from which to face the world!