Finding the Middle Ground between Selfish and Selfless

Lots of couples have one person who is more self-centred and one who is more self-sacrificing.  Often we have learned these ways of operating as a self-protection in our formative years. It can be hard for clients to understand what the alternative is – often they fear that they might become like their partner (whose behaviour hurts and frustrates them).  …

Level Up your clients

Clients often mean ALL kinds of things when they say they have “problems communicating”.  But one thing it can be very useful to help them sort out is; what “level” are they communicating at? I describe 3 levels to my clients:  CONTENT level – we are having a discussion about whether we should try and take a vacation this winter …

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Using the important difference between “need” & “want”

In talking with clients, have you ever noticed people describing their partner (or themselves) as “needy” or “demanding”?  They complain about pressure for (or a lack of) affection, sex, attention, talk etc. Yet our culture idealises the notion of needing your partner. “I need you” is generally offered up in a movie or book as the ultimate declaration of love, the …

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Defining Infidelity

Esther Perel recently published a new book called “The State of Affairs” which both Paula and I think is great and recommend highly. It’s got both of us thinking about how we work with infidelity and this is the first of a series of blogs on the topic – something of a warmup for our workshop on the topic in …

HOW TO TURN BAD THERAPY INTO GOOD THERAPY

Paula is off at the Couple’s Conference this week (see our earlier blog if you don’t know what that is) so I thought it was a good time for me (Nic) to confess.  Sometimes I  do bad therapy  – I make mistakes and do things that are not good for the client.   Yet I am frequently encouraging my clients to be …

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CHALLENGING IRRESPONSIBILTY FOR SEXUAL CONNECTION

In the second of two blogs reporting on Ellyn Bader’s recent therapist workshop on Confrontation, Paula offers an in-depth and advanced exploration of a very common issue for couples: In the workshop Ellyn showed us how to skilfully challenge subtle (and not so subtle) patterns of symbiotic regression which prevent couples from continuing relational development. She notes that typically this pattern …

Go for the Jugular Gently: Confrontation as the powerhouse of Couple Therapy

Recently Dr Ellyn Bader presented an online therapist workshop on Confrontation. In this she described “the how, the when and the what” of using confrontation skilfully in couple therapy. Here’s Paula’s report on the training Essentially the technique (or HOW) of therapeutic confrontation involves being able to help each partner see which specific aspect of their behaviour is getting in …

Why Self Protection often equals Relationship Destruction (and what to do about it)

We are fond of telling our clients that they way we destroy our relationships is that “we protect ourselves out of them”. When we can’t find a way to soothe our own hurts and settle our feelings, we remain reactive, aroused, defensive, guarded, shut down and withdrawn. When we feel threatened we are far more likely to blame or avoid …

MAKING “GOOD TROUBLE”

Have you ever been sitting in the room with a couple and they are both looking at YOU to take charge of their relationship. Their lack of motivation for creating change seems to suck the air out of the room. While there may be a role for the therapist to take charge right at the beginning of therapy, in the …

Did you know that a conference dedicated to Relationship Therapy exists?

  As I journeyed through my career as a psychologist working with relationships I struggled to find ongoing professional development targeted specifically to this client group.   I ventured locally, nationally and even internationally to find conferences, workshops and online training that could enhance my work.  I was hungry to find a community of like minded couple therapists.  I could …