At Cascadia Family Therapy, when we begin to work with a couple, an essential task we ask couples to engage in during the course of therapy is date night. Not only are dates an important part of a healthy relationship, they also become time set aside with intention to discuss therapy.
It is exciting that the Gottmans have now written a book on this topic. Dr. John Gottman is an incredible researcher who has the ability to take the softer topics of therapy and put it together with hard science.
Check out their new book or try out their Eight Date Challenge!
Gottman’s Eight Date Challenge
Michael and I will be trying it out and blogging along the way!
NutritionFacts.org is a wonderful resource and this short video about the most nutritious “daily dozen” is a great kick starter to a healthier New Year!
Wow! We have so much to share!
As many of you already know, Michael and I both taught at Bastyr University this summer in their Graduate Counseling Program. It was an awesome summer spending time with amazing students, spending more time with friends and family, and enjoying “one of the driest summers in western Washington history!”
It was refreshing learning new skills, taking a break from having clients, and reorganizing Cascadia Family Therapy (so much more to come on that soon!). We have landed back in Bend right in time for a beautiful fall and we are anxiously awaiting a larger office space to accommodate our shift to mostly co-couples therapy. I cannot wait to share photos of the new space!!!
We are starting to schedule free 20 minute consultations which is the first step in working with us.
Stay tuned and/or schedule your consultation to begin couples therapy!
To clients past, present and future.
To you, the reader of this blog post.
To those curious about therapy despite the WIDE variety of therapists, counselors, psychologists, social workers, etc.
To those who love deeply enough to leap for change.
To those of you who bare your soul and dare to hope.
I am grateful that I have the pleasure of working with brave people who dare to dream of a better life. I am honored to witness that change that occurs every week at Cascadia Family Therapy.
Problems in your most important and intimate relationship is scary and isolating. It can feel like no one understands and there is no one to talk to.
Here are some triage steps to reducing damage and getting your relationship back on track:
- Stop the damage: Is there a topic that sets off the same argument? Is there a predictable negative interaction pattern that you can see? Does the problem appear unsolvable to one or both of you? These are excellent indicators to try doing something different. Try saying to your partner, “I feel like this topic always leads to an argument, can we put it aside until we have help with it?” or “I can see you are getting really upset with me, can we take a 20-30 minute time out to cool off?” Be sure to validate that you are both upset/hurt/angry, DO NOT MINIMIZE or ignore, simply state your desire for change and to not hurt one another more.
- Make time for the relationship: It is very common for couples to sense the stress in the relationship and begin to avoid the stress by avoiding one another. Often this leads one or both parties to begin to write a story in their minds about the relationship. These stories often sound like, “maybe I am better off on my own”, “all he does is avoid me”, “she has given up on me and this relationship”, or worse, “he/she did all this on purpose.” These narratives are built from only one side of the relationship and are rarely accurate. Make time to check in with one another and be curious, “what were your intentions?”, “how would you have preferred that argument to go?”, “what did you mean when you said ______?”
- Find a therapist or counselor who specializes in couples therapy. Many therapists are trained in their graduate programs to do couples work but that does not make a specialty. A therapist who specializes will work primarily with couples, attend ongoing training in couples therapy, and have confidence about how to approach your particular issue. Many therapists and counselors offer free consultations. At least talk on the phone with the therapist to get a sense of what they have to offer and how often they work with a couple.
Couples therapy can look different from couple to couple and I have been working on finding the key ingredients. Those components that seem to help every couple at every stage of their relationship.
Meaning making appears to be one of those key ingredients. We all do it from the time we wake up until we go to sleep. As human beings we don’t just take in facts and observations we make meaning from that information. Sometimes this is totally unconscious. For example, this was the first frosty morning here in Bend Oregon. For some people the first frost is a sign that summer is gone. For me it means ski season is closer!
Perhaps the best question to ask your partner when you don’t feel you are seeing eye to eye is, “What does that mean to you?”
“I hear there is a lot of change for you at work lately, what does that mean to you?”
“When I got upset yesterday, what did that mean to you?”
“When we couldn’t agree last night and went to bed upset, what did that mean to you?”
Look for ways to understand your partners experience and you will discover no matter how long you have been together there is so much you don’t know.
Perhaps it is backlash for all of the participation trophies and unfounded praise our culture is accustom to offering children these days but I have never heard children described in terms of their deficits so often.
It seems my work with children and their families commonly begins with uniting all of the deficits from the child. In the past it seemed parents would reflect, “it feels like he isn’t listening to me” but that has morphed to “how do I get my ADHD child to listen to me.”
Maybe the internet has turned us all into diagnosticians or maybe the school system has become the leading authority on your child and their behavior.
Either way, my dream as a family therapist is that parents would return to seeing their children as human beings on a complex journey of maturing and not a list of abilities and deficits.