Landmark Study Can Help Couples Reduce Conflict & Create Secure Loving Bonds

Landmark study shows that Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) can help couples understand their relationship better, reduce conflicts AND create secure, loving bonds that can soothe brains.”

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Inspired Living: Destress to Increase Intimate Connection

Destress to Increase Intimate Connection

First, what has you feeling warm and calm?

For me a fall ( and winter) ritual is among other things, drinking tea at night. Right now I’m enjoying a hot cup of vanilla cinnamon chai and listening to some jazz music. My fireplace is on and the salt lamp is glowing warmly. There’s something so elemental and soothing about tea, good music and the warmth of a fire.

Second, what helps you relax?

Something that I have been finding extremely useful for managing emotional stress is based in neurobiology. Dr. Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist and author of three books, Hardwiring Happiness, Just One Thing and Buddha’s Brain, describes three parts of the brain that are important to understand and corresponding actions for “taking in the good” so that we can increase our positive experience and settle the inherent, self protective fear activation of our reptilian brain or brain stem, the perception of lack fostered in our mammalian brain or precortex and the feeling of disconnectedness or isolation originating in the human brain or cortex. The process is called taking in the good and is defined in an acronym HEAL. H stands for have a positive experience, E means to enrich the experience, A means to absorb the positive and L is for linking the positive to the negative. It is akin to remembering and savoring positive experiences in a deliberate and effective way.

Thirdly, what are you doing for exercise?

Exercise has so many positive effects. It enhances well being, reduces stress and promotes longevity. It is not necessary to train for competitive events to have the benefits of regular cardiovascular exercise and strength training. Walking for thirty minutes three times per week is very helpful. Pilates is an exercise that I have found excellent for developing core and general body strength.?

So it is important to have “uber” self care when the daily stress increases and seasons change. Do what helps you feel warm and cared for, take in the good and do some regular exercise. My bonus strategy is to get sunlight directly in your eyes first thing in the morning, outside, not through a window or with your glasses on and go out walking in the daylight.

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Inspired Lifestyle : Three Steps to Reduce Conflict and Increase Intimacy in Your Relationship

Are you struggling to keep your relationship positive? Are you having the same argument repeatedly without resolution? Is the intimacy in your relationship waning? If you answered yes to any of these questions keep reading.
The Push Pull
Think about the last time you were in a disagreement or things got tense in your relationship, you know one of those repetitive arguments about who is doing the most around the home, whether or not the relatives are taking up too much time or why there is so little sex in your relationship. What happened?
It can go like this. I want you to talk to me and I try really hard to get you to talk. I repeat myself, I try again, I criticize, I blame, and on and on. It seems the more I do this, the more you… stop talking, distance yourself, perhaps get defensive or retaliate, then give up, and generally try to get away from anything that might worsen the situation.
Can you identify with either of these positions when things get stressful in your relationship? This is the push pull. The more I push to try and work out things and the more you distances. The result? disconnection emotionally for both. And loss of closeness, followed by loss of intimacy, physically and emotionally. The push pull pattern gets going in all relationships from time to time and most often gets worked out. When the pattern becomes entrenched and unresolved, the relationship can be heading for trouble because the underlying lack of connection grows wider.
What to do? To address the Push Pull pattern before it takes control takes three distinct steps:
1. Notice the pattern. As simple as it seems, just noticing that there is a pattern can change things for the better. It does not matter who started or finished the argument but rather that once the pattern starts it is in charge and either or both of you can take steps to alter it. The act of noticing that the pattern is one way toward counteracting the automatic control of the push pull pattern,
2. Notice my part in the pattern To notice my own part in the pattern means that I need to identify if I tend to push for connection or pull back for connection when difficult situations arise in my relationship; and
3. Do something differently than I would ordinarily do. So if I “push”, then try something different and see what happens. In the end, the pattern is the enemy in the relationship, not your partner. Move toward working together “against the enemy” to defuse its effect.
The information is based on Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) a process grounded in solid research by Dr. Sue Johnson in Ottawa, Ontario. For further reference go to her book, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for Lifetime of Love.
So in the spirit of Inspired Lifestyle where we examine ways to improve our daily lives, let’s have a discussion about how to unstick the stuckness in your relationship. Let’s have a discussion on how you might begin to use the knowledge of the push pull to and the three steps to change stuck patterns in your relationships.

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Book Recommendations
  • A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook ~ Bob Stahl (Author), Elisha Goldstein
  • Managing Pain Before It Manages You ~ Margaret A. Caudill MD PhD MPH (Author) Guilford Press.1995
  • Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn (Author)
  • Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy ~ Steven C. Hayes (Author), Spencer Smith (Author)
  • ACT Made Simple: An Easy-to-Read Primer on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy ~ Russ Harris (Author)
  • Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything ~ Geneen Roth (Author)
  • Modern Buddhism: The Path of Compassion and Wisdom ~ Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (Author)
Recommended Links

Below are some links to useful websites regarding managing chronic pain, EMDR, mindfulness, the Psychologists Association of Alberta, the College of Alberta Psychologists

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The Do’s of Coping with the Uncontrollable – Bad Weather

Today is a sunny and warm day.
The sky is so very blue. The white puffy clouds are bouncing across the sky.
The higher thin whisps of cloud are lazily streaked on the blue. The mountains
seem cut into the sky.   The thought
enters my mind, “I think it’s summer”. That’s a rare thought in this mountain town.  It’s amazing how good I feel just
sitting on my balcony, basking in this warm, slightly breezy hug. Ahhhhh…I
think most of us feel better when there is this type of weather. Do you? Continue reading

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What is EMDR and How Can It Help you?

fI would like to give you an introduction to this exciting and effective approach in my practice that can make your counselling experience more efficient and effective.
EMDR is an acronym that stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is also known as eye movement therapy or accelerated processing. In 1987, Dr. Francine Shapiro made a chance discovery that has been developed over the years into an effective mainstream treatment option based in research on posttraumatic stress and endorsed by the American Psychological Association.
EMDR is a brain based approach for reprocessing disturbing emotional content from immediate memory to long term memory. EMDR involves an eight step standardized procedure. It starts with a thorough history taking with a focus on early trauma that might be connected with the present difficulty. Once the background information is taken and the targets for reprocessing are identified in conjunction with you, there is less talking involved than with a traditional counselling approach. Continue reading

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Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work

In the previous blog on Tips to Better Vacations, I mentioned that you may have  relationship challenges arise on vacations by virtue of spending more time together and
being out of the regular routine.

Today I will address what makes a successful relationship as outlined in Dr.
John Gottman’s book, “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work”.
The information and approach can be  beneficial to you in learning about the things
you are doing well in your relationship and what needs improvement. I use the
Gottman approach in  couples’ work and the book is an excellent resource. I  am
going to give you a taste of the book and the approach.

Continue reading

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Welcome & Tips for a better Vacation Experience

Welcome everyone. I have recently returned to private practice both in Canmore and Calgary. This is my official first blog and the launch of my website. The website and blogs are intended to be a venue for sharing information and ideas. I will be writing regularly and look forward to hearing from you on this. I hope this goes far and wide as I love hearing how you are doing.

The process of writing and honing material for the website was a challenge, both positively and negatively.  My great website designer, Norja Vanderelst of Colour Infusion Web Design, was infinitely patient and had good humour with my careful, measured speed toward the process. That means I took a long time to write the content by virtue of putting it off and then had several rewrites. My friends Dr. Matt Graham and Kelly Green did the critique for me… And they’re still friends. Lol. It was overwhelming at times to figure out what to include so that it could be most helpful to you in deciding if my counselling services fit your needs. In the end, it was rewarding to go through the process.  I highly recommend it. And have Norja do a website for you and with you. Continue reading

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