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Posts Tagged ‘Relationship Therapy’

At Affordable Couples Counseling in San Diego, California, licensed marriage and family therapist Dr. Barbara Cunningham offers couples the opportunity to strengthen the foundation upon which their relationship rests. Research suggests that couples wait an average of six years before seeking help when their relationship is in trouble. The stigma attached to seeking professional help is still ever present in our society. Yet it is far cheaper and the course of therapy may be significantly shorter if couples begin sooner rather than later when their relationship becomes “stuck” in unhelpful patterns.

Premarital therapy offers couples opportunities to discuss hot button issues in a safe, holding environment with a neutral third party. Professionals can facilitate discussion and encourage the respect for difference typified in the healthiest of marriages.

Interestingly, one of the least happy times in marriage may be after the birth of the first child. Often times, the father may feel pushed to the “outside” with the demands of a newborn. Working on the marriage during the pregnancy and preparing for the birth may be a wise investment. A division of labor generated in advance, for example, is one idea that may be helpful.

Distancer/pursuer cycles can create chronic problems that increase the intensity of dissatisfaction on both sides. Such problems are better addressed early on.

To learn more about Dr. Cunningham’s marriage counseling and couples counseling services, visit her website at http://wwww.Cunninghamtherapy.com or call her at 619 9906203 for a complimentary phone consultation

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Relationship counseling offers couples an opportunity to address their challenges or to enrich an already harmonious union. In the heart of San Diego, Dr. Barbara Cunningham, licensed marriage and family therapist, offers expert relationship counseling at affordable prices. Evening hours are also offered Tuesdays through Thursdays to accommodate working couples.

Dr. Cunningham’s approach to couples counseling is strength-based. The overarching concept is that couples and individuals can bounce forward (instead of merely bouncing back),  actually increasing their level of functioning, not in spite of, but because of the adversity with which they have been faced. Whether faced with the challenges following an affair, conflicts over parenting style, money, chronic illness, or myriad other stressors, relationship counseling can help people move to a better place in their marriage or partnership.

The idea of “posttraumatic growth” was coined by Dr. Richard Tedeschi, coauthor of THE HANDBOOK OF POSTTRAUMATIC GROWTH and a psychology professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  His research implies that people can actually transform in positive ways as the result of a severe trauma. Such growth can successfully inoculate against subsequent trauma, making people more able to adapt and grow.

Growth from trauma may be the result of increased pride as a result of emerging intact from trauma, not only for individuals, but for systems. In THE RESILIENT SELF by Steve and Sybil Wolin, the term “Survivor’s Pride” is used to illustrate the concept of an individual emerging stronger from a successful navigation of hardship.

George Vaillant, in AGING WELL, discusses the Grant Study, a longitudinal study on adult development spanning over 70 years. In the book, Vaillant is interested in placing emphasis upon and discussing people who are actually healthy instead of a search for pathology. It becomes clear in reading the results of the study that one is not necessarily doomed by one’s past, including coming from an intense family system full of trauma. In fact, individuals and families facing various types of adversity may come out of their troubles stronger and more resilient.

Indeed, it is in the actual struggle with life’s greatest challenges that people may change and evolve in a positive manner. David Schnarch, for example, views the challenges in intimate relationships as an interlocking crucible. The deepest life meaning may emerge from the successful struggle to overcome challenge as individuals and as a couple.

At Dr. Cunningham’s counseling practice, relationship therapy of all kinds is available at an affordable price. To learn more about Dr. Cunningham’s model of relationship counseling, visit http://www.Cunninghamtherapy.com and get some free tips just for stopping by or call 619 990-6203 for a complimentary consultation.

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Infidelity and Relationship Resource Books

“People change and forget to tell each other.” Lillian Hellman

At her office in San Diego, California, licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Barbara Cunningham, specializes in relationship counseling for individuals and for couples. Dr. Cunningham often treats people suffering from the sense of betrayal that results from infidelity. Listed below are some good reads to help people as they struggle to come to terms with this profoundly difficult relationship challenge.

“The Good Divorce: Keeping Your Family Together When Your Marriage Comes Apart” by Constance Ahrons
If you determine that your relationship is unsalvageable, this is a fine resource for making the best of a very sad choice. It is an especially important book if you have children.

“Tell Me No Lies: How to Face the Truth and Build a Loving Marriage” by Ellyn Bader and Peter T. Pearson
Written by two psychologists who specialize in marriages and relationships, the book focuses on how we inadvertently or deliberately lie to our partners to avoid conflict. The authors bring their own marriage to the text as well as sample couples who illustrate the choices couples make that result in strengthening or weakening relationships and intimacy.

“Straight talk About Betrayal: A Self-Help Guide for Couples” by Donna R. Bellafiore
This small book is a powerhouse of information about the stages of emotional responses that couples go through with any significant betrayal. The author provides the reader with simple, clear and powerful information and a guide for how to work their way out of the haze that a betrayal brings to a relationship. The reader is empowered with steps to help them maintain stability and how to determine if the partners want to recover and rebuild the relationship.

“My Husband’s Affair became the BEST thing that ever happened to me” by Anne Bercht
This book is written for the reader who is in the throes of a partner’s betrayal and needs encouragement to know she’s not crazy nor alone in her agony AND that she will survive the pain and devastation. The author is frank and open about her own odyssey through the betrayal and provides the reader with exacting details about how the awfulness of the discovery later became the opening for a new and better relationship with her husband.

“Around the House and in the Garden: A Memoir of Heartbreak, Healing, and Home Improvement” by Dominique Browning
A good book to read as you’re recovering from an infidelity alone or when you’re choosing a divorce. Browning provides hope that you will recover and rediscover yourself.

“Back from Betrayal: Saving a Marriage, A Family, A Life” by Suzy Farbman; Afterword by Burton Farbman
This book is written by a woman who discovered her husband’s infidelity after twenty-five years of marriage. She does an excellent job of communicating her devastation and sense of disorientation. The book includes the details of her recovery from the hurt and her personal work to heal in therapy. A wonderful addition to the book is the afterword by her husband, who writes honestly and frankly about his infidelities, his reasoning and his reckoning with his choices, and their effects on his wife, himself, and their marriage. This is an excellent book to read once you have gotten past the initial shock of the discovery.

“If the Buddha Married: Creating Enduring Relationships on a Spiritual Path” by Charlotte Kasl
This book offers practical and sound guidance to remind the reader of what contributes to a strong, loving, and growing partnership. It’s a great primer on marriage.

“Letting Go of Anger: The 10 Most Common Anger Styles and What to Do About Them” by Ron Potter-Efron and Pat Potter-Efron
Both authors are family therapists and offer a simple and elegant description of the ways most of us express anger immaturely. The book also provides a clear description of what mature and responsible anger looks and sounds like. This is an excellent book that I recommend to many of my clients.

After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful” by Janis Abrahms Spring
Janis Spring is a clinical psychologist who specializes in helping couples overcome infidelities. Her book is a salve for those who are suffering from the discovery of betrayal and is equally as profound for the unfaithful partner. She does a fine job of describing what each partner is going through. She also presents the reader with checklists and practical ways to negotiate rebuilding trust.

“Surviving Infidelity: Making Decisions, Recovering from Pain” by Rona Subotnik and Gloria Harris
This is a nuts-and-bolts approach to making the decision to stay or go. It offers a range of considerations and helps the reader with specific ways to deal with obsessive thoughts and many fears and feelings.

To learn more about Dr. Cunningham’s model of practice in relationship counseling, visit her website at http://www.cunninghamtherapy.com or call 619 9906203 for a complimentary phone consultation.

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Random House Webster’s Dictionary
defines “defensiveness” as “sensitive to the act of criticism.” In his book entitledWhat Predicts Divorce?” John Gottman describes four types of communication that he labels the Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse. According to him, these styles of communication are not helpful and can be predictive of divorce. One of the four horsemen is defensiveness. When a partner is defensive, he or she may also saying, “I am more interested in protecting myself than caring about what you are thinking or feeling in the context of this problematic situation.”  Things can proceed downhill from there between the sparring partners.

In order to avoid provoking defensiveness in your partner, you may want to try some new self-management strategies:

1. Avoid blaming or criticizing your partner. The more your partner hears judgment and criticalness, the more he or she will place their energy into a counterattack or self-defense.

2. Try to assume a more neutral posture. Ask questions to gather information rather than to accuse. Your goal is to understand more accurately and objectively what the other person really means or believes to be the case. Remember that to make assumptions is to pose as if you have an ability to mind read (no one does!).

3. Verify what you think you heard in a tentative way that reflects your genuine effort to “get it right.” If you notice your partner’s body language, for example, conflicts with their words, notice it and ask about it. Do not let your own voice tone or body language conflict with your verbal request to understand where your partner is coming from.

4. Avoid using hyperbole-for example, do not use words such as “never” or “always.” Such “all or nothing” language serves to provoke defensiveness instead of promoting understanding. Try to stick to facts. Instead of saying, “You never want to spend time with just the two of us, ” say, “The last four times I initiated an activity for just the two of us, you said you didn’t want to do it.”

5. Listen to the “meta-content” or the message underneath the defensive or hostile statements. For example, if your partner says, “Back off! I am doing all that I can,” he may be feeling unappreciated or needing acknowledgement for his sincere efforts. When we work toward an understanding of a person’s underlying emotions and needs, it is much easier to demonstrate respect for what the other person is up against or what our own part has been in the context of problems in the relationship.

Trying to change how we communicate in our marriage or in our relationship can lead to a more harmonious union that supports the growth of one another as a result of resolving impasses. To learn more about Dr. Cunningham’s model of practice, visit her at http://www.Cunninghamtherapy.com

Dr. Cunningham practices marriage counseling and relationship counseling in the heart of Mission Valley. She offers complimentary telephone consultations at 619 9906203. It takes courage to embark upon a journey of individual counseling or couples counseling. Make a move to begin such a  journey today!

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See full size image Relationship counseling and marriage counseling are offered with both daytime and evening hours in the heart of San Diego by Dr. Barbara Cunningham, a licensed marriage and family therapist with her doctorate in marriage and family therapy. In her practice with couples and individuals, she offers people the opportunity to maximize their potential in the context of their relationships. Following is a list of ten tips to improve your relationship functioning:

1. See if you can identify a repetitive cycle that is not useful in your relationship. For example, you may be a pursuer while your partner distances. Of you may overfunction while your partner underfunctions.

2. Try to see if you can identify your part in how this stuck dynamic continues and change it up!

3. Keep your eye on what IS working in the relationship and notice it, both internally and in vocalizing it to your partner.

4. Go on regular and, at least, weekly date nights. Take turns planning and executing the date night–making “surprise” a key element for your partner.

5. In the words of Ghandi, be the change you wish to see.

6. Choose your words carefully, taking special care to avoid blame, criticalness, contemptuousness, or stonewalling (Thanks, John Gottman).

7. Practice self care. The more you model that you love yourself, the more loveable you become!

8. Be a self. Know where you stop and he/she begins. Be willing to risk disapproval in the service of keeping connected and engaged. Just choose your words in a way that will minimize a defensive reaction in your partner. Make your statements from an “I” perspective instead of “You should/shouldn’t” perspective.

9. Play with your partner!

10. Work WITH your partner. Be more interested in being connected rather than in being right!

To learn more about Dr. Cunningham’s model of practice and how relationship counseling can be useful, visit her website at http://www.Cunninghamtherapy.com

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“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” Emilie Buchwald

“Physical infidielity is the signal, the notice given, that all the [other] infidelities are undermined.” Katherine Ann Porter

“Surviving is important, but thriving is elegant.” Maya Angelou

“Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” Oscar Wilde

“Passion might arise unbidden, but love is a discipline.” Julia Alvarez

“A great marriage is not so much about finding the right person as about being the right person.” Marabel Morgan

“Underground issues from one relationship or context invariably fuel fires in another.” Harriet Lerner

“Character-the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s life-is the source from which self-respect springs.” Joan Didion

“Blaming mother is just a way to cling to her still.” Nancy Friday

“Happiness is a goal, not a byproduct.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Dr. Cunningham has a private practice in the heart of Mission Valley and offers evening appointments to accommodate working individuals and couples. To learn more about her model of practice, visit her web site at http://www.Cunninghamtherapy.com or call 619 9906203 for a complimentary phone consultation.

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“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only is such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” M. Scott Peck

We all experience times in our lives when our problems seem overwhelming. In earlier eras, there was a social stigma to seeking counseling. But over the past forty years or so, it is becoming increasingly clear that counseling is a treatment that everyone can benefit from at one time or another in one’s life. To seek counseling is to address one’s problems, conflicts and relationship difficulties directly. Counseling is an effort that is inherently relational. The counseling relationship is itself a place to practice being honest with self and with other. Counseling is a courageous move. It can be empowering for the individual and his/her relationship. If you are having problems either individually or in your relationship, why not begin the new year by seeking counseling? It may put you on a different path that will lead you toward increasing clarity and fulfillment. For affordable relationship counseling, call 619 9906203 for a complimentary consultation or visit http://www.Cunninghamtherapy.com for some free tips and information about Dr. Cunningham’s model of practice.

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What is it about  marriage that calls upon us to stretch and grow? It is the frustration and the problems that emerge that require of us new approaches and behaviors within ourselves. Instead, we often find ourselves trying to “fix” or to change the other guy. This will not work.  McLaughlin once said, “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”

Pain and frustration can be great teachers. If one bends into problems instead of turning away and making it about the other guy, one can get a lot more bang for one’s buck in terms of personal growth and emotional development.  Long lasting, satisfying marriages reflect two partners who have the emotional maturity to “stay with it,” even during the stormiest of times.

Every relationship has a dynamic, a vibe. It is always co-created. We are either in sinc with one another or in reaction to one another, depending on the day and/or context. If relationships are co-created, they can be compared to dances. If you change one step, you have the possibility of changing the dance. This notion of infinite choices in terms of how to respond is a hopeful idea. It means there is always something else that can be done to change it up.

To learn more about my model of marriage counseling, please visit me at http://www.Cunninghamtherapy.comor call 619 9906203 for a complimentary telephone consultation.

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Dr. Murray Bowen, pioneering figure in marriage and family therapy, presented the groundbreaking idea that there are two competing life forces, and the tension between these life forces is always at play in relationship systems. On one hand, human beings have a need to be connected to important others. On the other hand, they have the need to be a separate self. How to balance these reciprocal forces in a way that works for oneself while at the same time having the ability to respect a partner’s differing needs for connection and separateness is the stuff of good therapy….learn more by reading my model of practice at http://www.Cunninghamtherapy.comand get some free tips just for stopping by.

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 Oftentimes, I get calls from potential clients who say their partner finally agreed to “come along” to therapy even though they insist they are not the one that “needs” it. Most of the time, people who rail on about how the other person needs the help are anxious and frightened to look at their part in a relationship problem. They are afraid that if they admit to even a small part in the relational problem, their partner will use it “against them” and they will be even more unhappy. A competent therapist can see that both people are free to state their truths without being “clobbered” by the other person. Anne Morrow Lindbergh had it right when she said, “If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others.” Relationship counseling should provide a safe, holding environment so that each partner can feel confident that if they are called upon to self-examine and then to change an aspect of their behavior, the benefits will far outweigh the costs of admitting fallibility. In my practice, clients are routinely called upon to look at their own part in the relational dance, to have the courage to make changes in their way of coming toward their partner, and to look at ways they are being frightened and moving “away” rather than moving in the relationship as an effective partner. To be able to look within and then to be able to look at your part takes courage. Relationship counseling is definitely not for sissies! To learn more about Dr. Cunningham’s model of relationship counseling, click on “model of practice” at her web site: http://www.Cunninghamtherapy.com or feel free to call for a complimentary phone consultation. Relationship counseling is a proven way to begin to heal the attachment wounds that may be impacting your couplehood. The longer you wait to call, the more work will need to be done. Call now and get started on a path of healing and love.

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