I was at a dinner party and someone asked me if I worked with couples in my practice, being that I do, I said yes. They were fascinated about how I help couples, they remarked how it must be difficult because I had two peoples "stuff" to deal with. With me being a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist I was trained on how to work with couples and families in addition to the individuals in my practice. But that got me thinking, what is some easy steps or tools I can encourage a couple to use to improve their communication. So, how can a couple make sure both partners are being heard equally in a relationship?
I think that having both partners feel heard equally in a relationship is the ultimate goal and when a couple comes to me for counseling.
The reality is that one partner is probably more dominant, thus their communication style may be more dominant too (ie someone who has an aggressive style of communication may have a partner who has a passive style of communication)- guess who's winning the arguments in that relationship? Well, if you guessed the aggressive communicator you are correct. In order to change that dynamic, both parties have to be open to the change. I use the following statements in order to have both parties speak up for themselves:
1. "Let me think about that." It's a simple request but just asking for more time (24 hours, 48 hours or more?) before making a decision is totally acceptable, so your partner should respect your request for that time. Allowing one partner the time and space to process their decision is a great way to show the partners are supportive of one another.
2. I often teach the simple and easy communication skill, the traditional' "I feel_______ when you________ because________." If you and your partner can use this communication skill when things are getting heated great. Keep up the good work. This statement may even catapult you to the ultimate goal of having both partners feel they are being heard in their relationship.
3. "What I hear you saying is...." Another solid communication skill is to use reflective listening skills. Reflective listening looks like partner A talks, partner B does not talk during that time. No talking, no interrupting and no asking questions. Then partner B reflects back to partner A what they heard. I recommend saying, "What I heard you saying is...." Then, to allow for both partners to feel heard, you repeat the process and let partner B talk and partner A listen and partner A reflects back what they heard. The good side of this technique is it allows for both parties to feel heard because when one person is talking the other is listening, the downfall? It may take a while, but if you and your partner are working towards both being heard practice makes perfect!
#gabriellefreiretherapy #couplescounseling #relationshipadvice
It Takes Courage
by Author Unknown
It takes strength to be firm,
It takes courage to be gentle.
It takes strength to conquer,
It takes courage to surrender.
It takes strength to be certain,
It takes courage to have doubt.
It takes strength to fit in,
It takes courage to stand out.
It takes strength to feel a friend's pain,
It takes courage to feel your own pain.
It takes strength to endure abuse,
It takes courage to stop it.
It takes strength to stand alone,
It takes courage to lean on another.
It takes strength to love,
It takes courage to be loved.
It takes strength to survive,
It takes courage to live.
#gabriellefreiretherapy #courage #self-motivation
You may know someone who is taking an opioid to manage pain they could be at risk for misusing this their medication. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) recommends that you talk about the opioid and the medication, gather information about your loved one's pain level and monitor them for misuse. For more information, contact www.hhs.gov/opioids or call 1-800-662-HELP.
I work with a lot of individual and couples who are working on themselves and their relationships. I've noticed that being in a relationship can bring about a lot of underlying feelings, some of those feelings are of inferiority and may be connected to your self-esteem. Low self-esteem often results in stress or anxiety, loneliness and an increase likelihood of depression, it can cause problems in friendships and relationships, it can impair your work or job performance and it can lead to an increased chance of using drugs or alcohol. To address your low self-esteem try to quiet that inner critic voice, try a new hobby and you can always "fake it until you make it." For more ideas on how to raise your self esteem, read an article that I contributed to: upjourney.com/how-to-deal-with-low-self-esteem-in-a-relationship
In a world where everyone wants to be someone.....be yourself. Simple advice, not always as easy to execute.
If you don't know how to be yourself, I recommend self-reflection, meditation and a discussion about what you want with a trusted individual. Hold true to your values and remember, no one else knows your journey.
When working with an individual or a couple, I explore a person or couples strengths and we talk about how to build on them. I also explore the underlining wants and needs that will assist you to be yourself. #gabriellefreiretherapy
Are you searching for a therapist for yourself or a loved one? Do you feel confused about how to find the right therapist? Read this article where I explain how I use engagement skills and encouragement to build the therapeutic relationship with my clients. #gabriellefreiretherapy #therapy #mft
Using engagement and encouragement as a therapy technique: A licensed marriage and family therapist walks you through her therapeutic processby Gabrielle Freire | Sep 21, 2018 | Counseling News, Counseling Techniques, Mental Health | 0 comments
Counseling Feelings Mental Health Therapy Wellbeing
Engagement is a primary focus of the initial portion of treatment. (There are typically 4 phases of treatment: the engagement phase, intake phase, implementation phase and the transition or discharge stage). I start engaging with someone when they first call me and ask me questions about therapy. I ask open ended questions to get the potential client talking about their symptoms and behaviors, that helps me get an idea if I will be able to help him or her (by this I mean to see if I have the experience and training to meet their clinical needs).
If I can help them, I move on to schedule the appointment, I ask their availability versus telling them a date/time that works for me. To also aid with the comfort levels, I tell them info about the first visit including parking suggestions and tell them to wait in the waiting room. That allows the client to not have to worry about when I will get them out of the waiting room. It also helps them plan their trip if they know where to park. Someone who is anxious may worry about finding parking, someone who is depressed may not have the energy to look for parking and give up rather than look for a parking spot.
I ask open ended questions to help them talk about their feelings. The open ended questions helps the potential client understand that I’m interested in them (which I believe builds the relationship). When we have that first phone call, I have an idea if they are depressed, anxious, if they had trauma, ADHD, impulsivity problems etc. That helps me prepare my office/myself for when they come in.
I will act differently with someone who has depression versus someone who is anxious. For example, for an anxious person, I may talk in a calm voice and try to let them talk more than say a depressed person who may not have as much energy to formulate questions. I put myself in their shoes and talk about things that I think they may want to know (not that I’m all knowing but I do know that coming in to a therapy office may be overwhelming and they may forget to ask questions). Someone who had trauma may need me to move a little slower and not make any quick body movements which they might interpret as jarring.
Other ways I help a client feel comfortable is by using active listening skills; reflecting back what they said to me, not interrupting, nodding my head when they speak. Those are all great ways to connect with the client. I ask them, “how did that make you feel” versus “you were feeling sad.” Also, matching body language is another way; it works on the subconscious mind, so if the client’s legs are crossed, I may also cross my legs. I don’t cross my arms even if they have their arms crossed because arm crossing is more noticeable and I wouldn’t want the client to feel that I was disconnected from them or I disapproved of what they were saying. I will even slightly nod my head when they are talking so they can see me validating what they are saying.
Additionally, I almost always end a session asking if they had any questions. That allows for clarification and also demonstrates that I value their input in their treatment. I also write treatment plan goals with their input and never reject an idea for treatment. I don’t laugh at them if they share something out of the ordinary and don’t laugh at them if they make a mistake.
What triggers a depressive episode? There are a lot of different reasons why a person experiences depression including after a death or break up, loss of friends or even being in a situation that they can't change (such as children who are bullied and can't stay safe or for adults having money problems).
Symptoms of depression include: a depressed mood most days, a diminished interest in all, or almost all, activities most of the days, weight loss when you are not trying, an appetite change (either eating more or less), feeling worthless and diminished ability to concentrate.
If you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms contact me for a consultation to see how I may help, gabriellefreiretherapy.com
Therapy can be beneficial especially if you're open to learning new skills or challenging long term beliefs but let's face it, it is also work. I like to think of therapy as the ultimate Loading or Unloading Zone. When I work with an individual or couple, I try to have them unload some of the sad stuff or the negative thoughts and feelings that really aren't helpful, such as shame or guilt. The Loading part of therapy occurs when you "load up" on the healthier thoughts and when you practice/rehearse healthier interactions (such as communication skills or negotiation skills). If you're interested in dealing with the negative thoughts and feelings that are getting in the way of your happiness contact me today for a consultation and let's get started on your journey!
After a busy week I let to relax on Sunday's. One of the ways I relax is by reading. This weekend I plan to catch up on my Psychology Today articles and get started on (re)reading The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. If you're struggling with your partner, there are are very useful tips in this book. In addition to working with families, I also provide couples counseling and use the skills presented in this book in my couples counseling. #therapy #gabriellefreiretherapy