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Posts Tagged ‘Premarital Counseling’

At Affordable Relationship Counseling, Dr.Barbara Cunningham,licensed marriage and family therapist, provides couples and individuals with insight based psychotherapy to create more satisfied, connected lives. One aspect of that journey is described below. Evening hours and affordable rates are available. The office is open from Tuesday through Fridays, beginning at noon or one and going as late as nine p.m.

To me, poetry is the word transformed at the edge of experience. It works on a creative level to transport people to the borders of their interpretive struggles. Providing clients with a poem to read that is relevant to their presenting problems and/or asking them to write a poem about these problems are interventions that can be harnessed to help cope with and/or give new meaning to misery and suffering. Nothing is as important as touching pain at a level beyond intellect. Thus, in addition to clinicians’ creation of written lists of symptoms and presenting problems, perhaps poetry, with its compression and speed and intensity, is an especially useful exercise for the therapist. Seeing intense family and couple interactions can stuff the therapist with countertransference that needs to be worked out with more than an intellectually based consultation. Reading and writing poetry can create a healing place not only for the elderly client who may be working on his/her life review, but also for the therapist. Paying attention to the way the poem looks on the page and being aware of rhyme and line endings can actually slow us down and make us listen with different ears. Poetry has the power to make us see the heart of the matter.

If a therapist is not one to enjoy creative writing, at the least, poetry should be on his/her professional reading lists. The synthesis of feeling captured in brevity is another lens through which to view all experience and, especially, ultimate concerns. The sounds and sense of words in a poem seem to touch our brains in a way that speaks to our spirits. Poetry has healing power. It speaks to emotions. It is experiential.

The use of metaphor has been recognized by mental health leaders such as Jung, Milton Erickson, Jay Haley, and Edward Friedman as a way to access the unconscious needs, wishes, thoughts, and fears of the human being. It follows that there probably is an important connection between suffering, recovery, and the writing and reading of poetry. It is a different way to talk to each other. There is something about condensed language and structure that seems useful in times of trauma, including the crisis of aging and dying. Maybe by reading or writing a poem, a client can gain some sense of control. It can tease out the nuances of symptoms, habits, feelings, and beliefs that can help guide the way forward. It may be part of the road leading into the unconscious. We can turn to poetry to repair some damage. In the aftermath of 9/11, I remember seeing an eruption of poetry. It seemed to be a common means of exchange during those traumatic months following the attacks. Discursive language did not seem able to touch the horror the way that poems could. Poetry is a powerful way to capture the subjective and spiritual core of experience. It can take us to places that our intellect cannot access. It can help us to process unresolved issues.

To learn more about my model of practice, visit my web site at http://www.cunninghamtherapy.com or call 619 9906203 for additional information.

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As a licensed marriage and family therapist in the heart of San Diego, Dr. Barbara Cunningham enjoys a busy and interesting private practice. Research has shown that couples who are experiencing difficulties in their relationship wait an average of 6 years before seeking marriage counseling. The sooner a couple seeks help, the better the prognosis to return the couple to a state of harmony and mutual fulfillment and perhaps even take the couple to an even better place than they may have been before presenting problems emerged. Listed below are some quick tips to consider when choosing a couples therapist:

1. Is the graduate training of the potential counselor in psychology, in social work, or in marriage and family therapy? In contrast to many other training programs in therapy and counseling, marriage and family therapists are specially trained to see all problems in the context of relationships. It is a way of seeing how the problem may be embedded in other stories of attachment in each partner’s family system and in their current story. Looking at problems through the lens of the marriage and family therapist is akin to seeing a football game at the top of the bleachers instead of on the 50 yard line. It is a broader picture of what is really going on with the couple.

2. If the potential candidate trained as a marriage and family therapist, did they attend a COAMFT accredited graduate program?

3. Is the potential therapist trained at the masters or doctoral level in marriage and family therapy? Is the candidate a clinical intern who is collecting hours toward licensure or is the candidate already a licensed marriage and family therapist?

4. Does the potential therapist have experience being in therapy themselves? It has often been said that you cannot take a client farther than you have travelled yourself. Therapy is a kind of journey that allows you to go to emotional places that you may never have been before. This takes courage. You want a therapist who, from experience, has compassion for what you are up against in your efforts to get maxium gain from the therapy experience.

5. How long has the candidate been in practice?  Do they specialize in seeing certain relationship problems? Ages? Do they have a “niche?” Special expertise?

Even after you’ve selected a relationship therapist and had a few sessions, I suggest that you evaluate the therapy you are receiving. Here are a few areas to keep your eye on:

  • Skilled marriage counselors will not just sit there passively or nod their head “empathically” while you and your partner spend most of the session arguing just like you do at home; they will interrupt your unproductive fights to offer guidelines and teach new relationship principles that will help you manage yourself in the challenging context of intimacy.
  • Effective therapists will not get triangled into your issues by choosing a side with whom to align themselves. They will never view one partner as the main cause of the marital problems; they will try to help you and your partner each be able to visualize your own part in the co-determined issues.  When partners are most anxious, it is human nature to try to “blame” and point fingers. Good therapy work helps each partner manage themselves in a way to increase their respective capacity to own their own part and take responsibility for their own improvement rather than trying to “fix” their partner.
  • An ethical psychotherapist will never directly tell you to stay married or get divorced; in fact, giving such direct advice is specifically addressed as not ethical in the code of ethics of most professional associations.

To learn more about Dr. Cunningham’s systemic model of practice, visit her website at http://www.Cunninghamtherapy.comor call her at 619 9906203 for a complimentary phone consultation.

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Steven and Sybil Wolin (1993) researched how survivors of troubled families rise about adversity. They identified 7 clear qualities of resiliency. These qualities include: 1.) humor; 2.) relationships; 3.) initiative; 4.) morality;  5.) creativity; 6.) insight; and 7.) independence. Think about which resiliency most dominates your personality and build upon it. Your partner’s? Recognize it as well. And then validate it.

Resiliency is what happens when people thrive, don’t just survive, after adversity. Instead, you bounce FORWARD, not in spite of the problem, but BECAUSE OF it!

When resilience is looked at in terms of love and marriage, it is easy to see how these seven qualities might present great opportunies for  a couple to reach for one or two of them in an effort to get their connection even safer and more solid. For example, if one had the resiliency of intiative, one would not wait for one’s partner to pay them a compliment. Instead, they would be proactive and pay a compliment themselves. Get the idea? See what other examples you can come up with in looking at each core resiliency named by the Wolins. I would love to hear your responses. Take a look at the resiliency of creativity and see what you can do here. Have fun!  Onward!

If interested in my resiliency-based marriage counseling practice in San Diego, do visit my web site at http://www.Cunninghamtherapy.com or call for a complimentary phone consultation @ 619 9906203.

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20140707-192412-69852722.jpgSeven Tips To Improve Your Marriage @ ClinicalPsychotherapists.comThe ability to achieve a fulfilling and long term marriage reflects emotional maturity and resilience. It is often taken for granted that successful marriages just “happen.” Indeed, I disagree. I think that marriage is not for children. Marriages require the best of one’s adulthood. It is necessary that each partner keep their eye on the prize, the success of the marriage. Below are seven tips to improve the quality of your marriage. At my Affordable Relationship Counseling practice in San Diego, I routinely counsel my clients in these areas, and they often report back to me their positive results.

1. Remember that love is a verb. If love is an action, keep your eye on what you are doing for the love between you. Do not make demands on your partner. Develop strategies to help you self-soothe your anxiety when he or she is not doing what you wish they would. There are myriad ways to self soothe, such as exercising, seeing a friend, doing a crossword, reading a book, writing a journal, or listening to some good music. Keep your focus on yourself rather than on your partner to get to a changed place in your dynamic. You cannot change another. The only person you can change is yourself.

2. Make your marriage the number one priority. This means that you have a weekly date night. Do not veer from this tradition except in the face of illness or an urgent work or school-related deadline. Make sure the date you plan involves time to talk rather than just viewing a movie.
Take turns planning the surprise date for the other. Develop a tradition just for the two of you, such as Care Days. With Care Days, you each select one day of the week that you will regularly be pampered with acts that each of you have previously identified to the other. These acts will be tangible, observable acts that make you feel as if your partner cares to make you feel good.

3. As individuals and as a couple, do not forget to acknowledge the triumphant things you have achieved separately and together. Keep your eye on what you are doing right rather than on what you have done wrong. Have a solution-focus, not a problem focus.

4. Develop your own assertiveness skills, In other words, know your bottom line. Decide what you will do and won’t do in relationship to your partner. And be proud that you are a principle-driven partner.

5. Consider all your “yes-es” carefully. Instead of just going along and accommodating in order to avoid making waves, be willing to say no. Also, do not let angers pile up like so many old clothes piled up in the middle of the room. They will clutter your positive feelings, create escalating resentment, and can lead to explosions. Monitor and express your truest feelings….self awareness and then the ability to “be a self” is key in good marriages.

6. Avoid what John Gottman, a pioneer in marriage and family therapy, calls the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Defensive communication, Critical communication, Contemptuous Communication, or Stonewalling (lack of communication). Research has shown that these forms of communication are lethal to a marriage.

7. Learn to respect–and even- celebrate difference in one another. Yes, opposites often attract. Learn to acknowledge the reciprocity in your relationship. Yin and Yang, Dark and Light, Close and Distant, Distancing and Pursuing, Over-functioning and under-functioning….these examples and other opposites are always at play in relationships as they are in life. Getting to acceptance on opposing and opposite forces and tolerating the contradictions is part and parcel of relational maturity.

If you want to learn more about my model of practice and pick up some more free tips just for stopping, come to http://www.cunninghamtherapy.com/ or call 619-990-6203 for a complimentary phone consultation.

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At Affordable Relationship Counseling in San Diego, clients often come to appreciate that fulfilling relationships are the basis for joy and satisfaction in life. When we live in them in an emotionally mature way, relationships can offer each of us the opportunity to grow and mature. After all, we are always “becoming.” Unresolved issues from one context or from another relationship, including our earliest relationships with parents and siblings, frequently fuel fires in another, new relationship. When anxiety and tension flood our relationship dynamic, it can make us feel unsafe, lost, and disconnected. In my practice, I have worked with hundreds of couples and individuals, including lesbian couples and gay couples. What I have learned is that we are all more alike than we are different. When we feel a threat to our well being, whether it is a real threat or an imagined threat, we may either go into “flight or fight” mode. Good therapy can help us make less reactive and more reflective choices in the face of relational threat. We do not have to fight and we do not have to flee. We can remain present and accounted for and hold on to who we are in the relationship while still remaining connected to that important other. Oftentimes, we confuse “closeness” with” sameness,” and in that confusion can lie the seeds that create either incorporation anxiety or abandonment anxiety.Please call me for a complimentary phone consultation at 619 9906203 and get some free tips just for stopping by my web site at http://www.Cunninghamtherapy.com

To create a more secure bond is the goal of good couples therapy. I am located in the heart of San Diego and welcome a beginning conversation about getting you started on a therapy journey.

Keywords: affordable relationship counseling san diego, marriage counseling san diego, psychotherapy san diego, couples counseling san diego

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