Relationships, Dating and Intimacy:
Counselling in Vancouver, BC
It's difficult to speak honestly about our relationships, especially in this highly curated age of social media. We may feel like we're failing or getting it wrong when our relationships have conflict or lack connection. The truth is, being in relationship with someone means that your buttons are going to be pushed, and it also means that at times, your connection might not flow as easily. Whether your relationship with your partner is feeling stuck, distant, or fraught with conflict, counselling can help identify and address the roots of the issue.
Why are relationships so hard?
Relationships ask a lot of us, and they poke at some of our biggest fears: Am I lovable? Am I attractive/smart/interesting enough? Do I matter? Can I trust you? Will you change your mind about me? We long for connection, romance and compatibility. But attaining these things is not always a straightforward process.
In counselling we can explore:
- communication breakdowns, such as nagging, fighting, and silence
- relationship repair after infidelity (or, learning to let go when repair is not possible or desired)
- barriers to having a satisfying sex life
- fear of committment
- stagnation and boredom in relationships
- the decision to end a relationship, and all of the implications that go along with that
- feelings of rejection, abandonment, and heartache
My view on relationships and intimacy
Adult, committed relationships require emotional safety in order to thrive.
When we feel emotionally safe, we can take the risks necessary to be open and real. This doesn't mean getting along and agreeing all the time, but it does mean that we have a clear impression that our partners "have our backs." In an emotionally safe relationship, we are free to be more flexible and candid. We feel safe enough to raise contentious issues and disagree with our partners from time to time, because we know the relationship is on solid ground.
Many variables can interfere with secure attachment. Our earlier life experiences and attachment patterns create sensitivities that can prime us to mis-read our partner's cues and to react with anger, withdrawal, or criticism when we doubt our connection. This is far reaching, impacting how we argue, how we ask for attention, and even (especially) our sex lives.
When I see couples together, I use Emotionally Focused Therapy, a well researched, attachment-based therapeutic method that was developed by Dr. Sue Johnson for use with couples. The interventions in EFT help repair connection and break the "pursuer and withdrawer" cycle that so many relationships fall into.
If you prefer to address your relationship concerns in individual counselling, without your partner present, I will support you in that, and help you examine the patterns and responses that are keeping the relationship stuck or unhappy. If it becomes clear that involving your partner is a necessary next step, we can discuss ways to do so.
Can counselling help people who are single, between relationships, or dating?
I frequently see people in my practice who are experiencing issues with dating, break-ups, and intimacy issues. If you're in between partners, this is a very good time to be in therapy. Striking when the iron is cold allows us to take stock of your values, leverage your strengths, and figure out what these recurring barriers to connection are all about.