A Beautiful Example of Love and Friendship

Lesson Learned At the Bowling Alley

This past summer, I took my kids bowling for the first time in what felt like a million years. The lanes weren’t crowded, and it was a great place to head to beat the summer heat. As we played our first round of games, three men walked over to the lane beside us to start their games. One was a man with profound special needs, another seemed to be his caretaker, and another seemed to be his brother or a close friend.

The man with special needs was the only one bowling: they put up the bumpers so he wouldn’t get gutterballs, and he was having a great time sending the balls soaring down the heavily polished lane. He was excited when he knocked pins down and was frustrated when only one or two would go down, but over time, I realized I wasn’t watching him much at all: it was his brother (or the man who I assumed was his close friend) who caught my attention most.

He didn’t bowl, but he boisterously encouraged his friend through every try. “You got it!” he’d say by way of encouragement before the ball went down the lane. “That was a great shot.” When the pins would be knocked down, he’d say admiringly, “No one can bowl like you, that was amazing.” If not all the pins went down, he’d say, “Don’t worry, you’ll get them next time!”

Just simple encouragement, the entire time in a voice that was not condescending, or apologetic but 100% genuine. He was proud, and it was indeed no big deal that this man who was his friend was bowling just like everyone else.

The thing that struck me most about the exchange that I saw was that it cost this man literally nothing to be so encouraging. He didn’t have to, after all; he could have taken his friend bowling and nodded or given a few claps here or there. But he didn’t – he made the choice to be completely in the moment and a beautiful example of love and friendship.

I think often now about those moments that I am afraid to encourage people in my life. Why am I afraid to do that more often? Is it because of how I think I will look to others? Is it because I will make others suspicious? Is it because I’m afraid of getting ridiculed too? I don’t know. It gave me food for thought, though, and maybe this story will give you some, as well.

Who can you encourage in your life today? Who can we reach out to, as genuinely as possible, to lift up? Is there anyone in your own life you seek encouragement from when you’re down? We all have the ability to lift others up when we come across them, and it doesn’t cost us anything to put a smile on someone’s face. Give it a try today!

Until next time, be well!
Christy

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About the author: Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. Christy also blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com and tweets @agapeflower117. You can  follow her here on eTalkTherapy for inspirational articles and different perspectives as they relate to good mental health.

Four Ways to Improve Your Mood and Find a New Perspective

Navigating Your Life in a Post-Pandemic World

I have no idea if you’re a Millennial, Gen-Z, or a Boomer, but I fall somewhere in what is known as the “Xennial” generation – the tail end of Gen X and the very beginning of the Millennial years. I didn’t grow up with a computer or a phone, and I was well into adulthood when I was able to use Google Maps to get around. Before then, I had to write directions down on a piece of paper – and then later was excited to print out the directions from MapQuest. I would study my odometer to figure out if I had to turn left after 0.8 miles – and to figure out how long 0.8 miles was! Now things are so much quicker with the ability to navigate on my phone, I don’t have to worry about how exactly to get around in my car.

What I do still need to do though, is navigate through my life. There’s no app for that yet (although I wouldn’t really want one if there was!) And it can seem just as difficult to know how to get through one day to the next, especially with the backdrop of the pandemic still affecting us. Here are a few tips and tricks that I’ve found helpful, and that may help you, too!

  1. Know Where You’re Going. Like any trip you take, you’ll feel successful once you know where it is that you’re going. You may think, “But I am so anxious/depressed/sad/unstable to know where my life is going!” Fair enough – I think the same thing all the time! But I’m talking about a small trip. If you feel you can’t make it through the day, can your destination be to make it three hours from now? Can you make it to the next ten minutes? Find a destination that is as small as you need it to be. If you can get there, take a deep breath, and realize that you made it.
  1. Pack Your Snacks. No road trip is complete without snacks, and that goes for the days when you’re not physically going anywhere, either. Make sure to eat throughout the day and to drink water, too. No shame intended and I know it’s hard sometimes, but try to make your food as healthy as you can make it for the moment – physical discomfort is not a lot of fun when paired with mental and emotional discomfort.
  1. Keep Good Company. Car trips do go by faster with a friend traveling with you, and that’s true for life, as well. But if you’re unable to see people regularly, what can you fill the journey with? If you’re into listening to podcasts, audiobooks and music, check your local library for new ones to try. Ask friends for some recommendations for new books to read or what show to stream. Keep in touch with more phone calls and Facetimes with family members you haven’t seen in a long time! But remember that there’s a time for much-needed silence, too. If you’re feeling frazzled and overwhelmed by too much screen time, try to carve out some room (seriously, just two or three minutes to start) to sit in silence and enjoy the quiet.
  1. Look around you. On car trips, we can be so focused on the road ahead of us and our directions that we might forget to look around at the landscape a bit. What’s in front of you today that you haven’t noticed? Are there new flowers in your neighborhood now that Spring is here? Have you noticed the days growing longer and the sun taking more time to set? Try to take a look around a few more times during your day – a little thing can help a lot!

These are just a few ideas to help with navigating these next few weeks. I hope they are a help for you, and please feel free to reach out to etalktherapy.com for professionals to talk to!

Until next time, be well!
Christy

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About the author: Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. Christy also blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com and tweets @agapeflower117. You can  follow her here on eTalkTherapy for inspirational articles and different perspectives as they relate to good mental health.

The Importance of Making Eye Contact

The Importance of making eye contact

The Eyes Have It

Shortly before the Covid lockdowns, a neighbor of mine published her first novel. She held a book reading and signing in an art gallery downtown, complete with a wine and cheese reception and stacks of books for sale (stacks that rapidly dwindled; she is an excellent writer). After she read a passage from the novel and fielded some questions from the audience, we lined up with our copies and waited our turn as she graciously spoke with us and signed them.

The art gallery that held the reception was floor-to-ceiling abstract art that held some works in progress as well as completed pieces. As I waited in line and sipped my wine, a tall man stood behind me. I recognized him as the owner of the gallery: in his forties, or thereabouts; not very young, but with hair and a beard that had yet to show any signs of gray.

We chatted about his studio and I admired his work. He talked about another art studio that he had in Brooklyn, and mentioned that he and his wife traveled back and forth between the two quite a bit. Not knowing – or even thinking – about how in a month, the idea of travel like that would be impossible because of the virus, I commented on how great it all sounded.

He was a very kind man, and what struck me most about our conversation was that he looked me in the eyes the entire time we were talking. I’m the kind of person who often looks around as I talk, trying to find the right words, but he wasn’t like that. He genuinely listened as I talked, not interrupting, and waited until I finished with a sentence before starting his.

I should be honest: it was jarring! I was so used to the folks in my life being much like myself by talking over each other, interrupting here and there (not impolitely, of course, we just enjoy lively conversation). But the owner of the art gallery didn’t do any of that. And not just with me, either: with everyone he talked to, he did the same thing. Listened, conversed, and looked them right in the eyes the entire time.

It was a wonderful feeling, probably similar to what the kids say these days when they say “I feel seen.” Being looked at in the eyes when someone is talking to you validates you, makes you feel as though you are worth looking at.

And you are worth looking at.

I remembered this the other day when I was thinking about how long it’s been now that we’ve been wearing masks that have covered up most of our faces, leaving pretty much just our eyes. Our eyes have had to do a lot more of the work communicating our thoughts and feelings this past year. What have your eyes told others this year? What have your friends’, and your neighbors’ eyes told you? Have you looked? In the mirror, what do you see in your own eyes?

There has been a lot to reflect on when it comes to the pandemic – years’ and years’ worth. There was plenty of suffering to be had (and still even so today). But one thing that may have served us well is the ability to look each other in the eye. It’s something that I hope we can keep up, long after the blessed day when the all-clear has been sounded!

Until next time, be well!
Christy

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About the author: Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. Christy also blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com and tweets @agapeflower117. You can  follow her here on eTalkTherapy for inspirational articles and different perspectives as they relate to good mental health.

Mindfulness and being in the moment

The Benefits of Mindfulness

Why slowing down is good for your mental health

When we were first married, my husband and I liked to play video games. One of our favorites was Guitar Hero – do you remember that one? You’d have this guitar-shaped controller and you’d “play” along with whatever song. When you got high enough scores on the “album,” you could move on to the next level. One song I had a particularly tough time with in the beginning was “Slow Ride,” by Foghat. It doesn’t seem like that difficult of a song to play along to, but it was hard for me!

I find that for me, things that are slow or require a long period of concentration or work is hard for me. Crocheting, for instance. I like to do it, and I’m working on a blanket now for my daughter that’s taken a full year to complete. (Her bed is not that big.) I’m so used to things moving so quickly – my Internet, phone, etc. – that I have a hard time waiting.

“Slow ride…take it easy”? I don’t think so! If there’s something to know, I’d like to know it right now, please!

But I read the other day about a great concept of “slow entertainment” that was made popular in Norway a few years ago. A Norwegian filmmaker strapped a camera to the front of a train that was embarking on a seven-hour trip, and filmed the whole thing in its entirety. Norwegian state television aired the whole thing uncut, and it was a huge success! People loved it. It wasn’t flashy, wasn’t loud or terribly exciting, and yet people embraced its slowness.

Young children love to embrace slowness, too, especially on walks. This time last year, when the pandemic was first really becoming a reality, the kids and I would take walks around the block to watch Spring unfold before us. And you’d better believe that there was a splash (or several) in every puddle, a look under every big rock, a pointing finger at every blooming tree where the birds’ nests were still visible in its branches. Those walks, which normally take about ten minutes at a decent clip, took far longer with the kids because it was necessary to slowly take in all the wonder of it.

Life has certainly slowed down for all of us. But as it (slowly) begins to pick back up, what are some things you’re going to keep doing? Is it reading a book, enjoying a meal or time with friends and family? It could be anything that brings you joy, be it big or small.

It may take time to adjust to the new wonders that will come out of all of this. But I hope you find them and savor them as much as you can!

Until next time, be well!
Christy

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About the author: Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. Christy also blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com and tweets @agapeflower117. You can  follow her here on eTalkTherapy for inspirational articles and different perspectives as they relate to good mental health.

Meet Therapist Bridgette Petras

Join us in welcoming our new therapist Bridgette Petras to our growing eTalkTherapy family! Bridgette’s therapeutic style is supportive, highly individualized and focuses on helping clients find healthy ways to cope with life stressors. Bridgette’s areas of focus include dependency issues as well as depression and anxiety. Get to know more about Bridgette in our Q&A:

Therapist Bridgette Petras

What does therapy mean to you?

Helping someone untangle their thoughts and gain insight that is supportive of self growth.

What makes therapy successful?

Having a great rapport and continuing to support and encourage self growth.

How has COVID-19 shaped your role as a therapist?

Yes, COVID-19 has challenged me to adjust to doing therapy over the phone compared to face to face in my office.

Describe yourself in three words?  

Creative, curious, and honest.

What was the last book you read? Thoughts on it?

“Greenlights” by Matthew McConaughey – I’m reading it now.

If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be AND why?

Leonardo DiCaprio ( because he’s my favorite actor and I’m impressed with his humanitarian work and support).

Share something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?

I studied the Arabic language in Morocco.

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If you are looking to make positive changes in your life, we can help! Please contact us today about how to register and schedule your live video counseling session with Bridgette.

Follow eTalkTherapy on Facebook and Twitter for updates and articles related to good mental health!

Reduce Stress with Hospitality and Kindness

Stress reduction at home

Finding ways to promote hospitality and kindness

Not too long ago, a bunch of ladies on our street gathered for a “baby shower parade” for a neighbor who’s expecting her third child next week. The parade was organized by a friend who is remarkably talented in hospitality. Even though it had snowed the night before, this friend set up tables, stuck letters spelling out “It’s a Girl!” into the cold, hard ground as best she could, and organized miniature bottles of champagne with a sweet pink ribbon around their necks for the guests to take home and open in celebration when the baby was born. When our expectant neighbor came out to greet us – she didn’t know about the event beforehand – she wiped some joyful tears away, and we all spent the time masked up in her driveway doing what you would normally do during any non-pandemic shower: oohed and aahed over tiny baby outfits and warm receiving blankets, recalled stories of our own labors and deliveries, and basked in the shared little community we had.

It was a great day, made even more special by these little touches that my friend had created something that I, admittedly, am not very skilled in. (I don’t have a good eye for matching color palettes or am gifted in coordinating party favors.) But it was more than just those things: it was the spirit of hospitality that struck me, and the other guests, the most.

What do you think of when you hear that word, “hospitality?” You might think of a hotel manager or a party planner. You might think of the opposite word, “inhospitable.” Or you might picture something warm and inviting. When I think of hospitality, I think of welcoming – of anticipating someone else’s needs or wants and providing it for them for no other reason than enjoyment for someone else’s happiness. It’s letting someone know that you think they’re important enough to make them comfortable.

And interestingly enough, it’s not something that comes easily to everyone! I don’t think it’s always our first instinct to look out for the other people in our lives. There are times when we have to move our own comfort out of the way for someone else, and it’s uncomfortable and undesirable (I’m looking at you, parents of young kids!) But if you’ve been on the receiving end of someone’s unfettered hospitality, you know how special it makes you feel, and that feeling can go a long way.

On a podcast I listened to recently, one of the hosts described a friend of his who is a master at hospitality. He doesn’t drink much beer, but always makes sure to have a case of it in his fridge ready for guests, and that’s because people are more apt to help themselves when it’s offered if there is a lot of beer there, versus if there’s only a couple. My friend, the one who hosted the baby shower, is also thoughtful this way too because when you spend the night at her house, her guest room is outfitted like a bed-and-breakfast, complete with wi-fi password framed by the bed, right next to your own personal Kureig machine.

Is this something you feel you need to do at your home? Probably not and that’s okay! There’s no need to go above and beyond. But I do think that we can all benefit from becoming more hospitable in our lives. What does that look like in a pandemic, when we can’t have people over for a beer? Well, it could look like taking some time to send a text or a Zoom call with a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. It could mean grabbing some extra sundries for a neighbor the next time you’re at the grocery store, or picking up a neighbor’s takeout order when you go to pick yours up. If you have the time (and muscle strength), it could also mean shoveling the sidewalk in front of your neighbor’s house after you shovel your own, or dropping off some donuts for the teachers in your kids’ school on a Friday to celebrate another week in the books.

Whatever it is, your show of hospitality will not only make a difference in someone else’s day, it’ll make a good difference in yours, too!

Until next time, be well!
Christy

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About the author: Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. Christy also blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com and tweets @agapeflower117. You can  follow her here on eTalkTherapy for inspirational articles and different perspectives as they relate to good mental health.

Meet therapist Brady Figuly

Breaking the Ice with Therapist Brady Figuly

Therapist Brady Figuly with his new catJoin us in welcoming our new therapist Brady Figuly to our growing eTalkTherapy family, who has the unique ability to meet people where they are and he uses that skill to offer compassion and understanding in the therapeutic relationship. Brady’s areas of focus include depression and anxiety. Get to know more about Brady in our Q&A:

What does therapy mean to you?

Therapy, for me, is the safe space to process through things that have been distressing or uncomfortable for you. I became a therapist because my therapist helped me through some really hard times. When I started seeing my therapist, I started turning my life around. I was able to pick apart all of the unhelpful thoughts I had and the maladaptive behavior I learned over the years that is no longer beneficial to my healing process. I became a therapist to help those who are struggling like I was; to help people who were like me and thought they were beyond or undeserving of help or thought they were going through it alone. You are not alone. You are loved. You are important.

What makes therapy successful?

Therapy is a process. It can take a long time and feel like nothing is changing. Success is hard to find when you are in the middle of working through tough issues. Successful therapy, to me, is looking back on yourself and reflecting on things and realizing that you have made steps. Realizing that you’re not the person you used to be and that you no longer hurt like you used to. Success can be hard to define, but I look for it in the small victories every day and in recognizing that growth has been made. You made it through the thing you thought you’d never make it through.

How has COVID-19 shaped your role as a therapist?

Covid-19 presents all kinds of new challenges to therapy. It has shaped me mostly in that I’m realizing that most of us are struggling with day-to-day life. I’ve realized stress from the outside world can have huge effects, even when we are taking time for ourselves. It’s made me appreciate the importance of having people to talk to, who are willing to go through the trenches with me. Covid has shaped my role in that I am learning how to deal with these new challenges and adapt and I’m also learning that it is okay to take this stutter-step and learn how to deal with these things.

What is your life philosophy?

My life philosophy is to treat others better than you want to be treated. I think it is often very easy to meet anger and frustration with anger and frustration, meeting those feelings with acceptance and even vulnerability (when appropriate) can change the tides of the conversation and your relationship with that person. 

therapist Brady FigulyDescribe yourself in three words?

Three words to describe myself: Empathetic, calm, thoughtful 

What was the last movie you saw? Thoughts on it?

The last movie I watched was “The Fantastic Mr. Fox.” I love Wes Anderson movies (The Grand Budapest Hotel is my favorite) and this one was no different! I think most of his movies are serious enough without taking themselves too seriously. He does a great job of mixing the sad and tough parts of life into absolutely hilarious, witty. and just generally comforting movies.

If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be AND why?

If I could meet someone, living or dead, I think that I would want to meet Mac Miller. I am a huge fan of his art and it breaks my heart that he was taken so soon.

Share something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?

Some people might be surprised to learn: I love hockey and have played three different kinds of throughout my life. I played dek (on foot) hockey from 9th grade to freshman year of college, ice from 8th to 10th grade, and roller all four years of college.

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If you are looking to make positive changes in your life, we can help! Please contact us today about how to register and schedule your live video counseling session with Brady.

Follow eTalkTherapy on Facebook and Twitter for updates and articles related to good mental health!

Welcome Therapist Alicia McAllister

Meet Therapist Alicia McAllister

Therapist Alicia McAllister
My fiancé and I went to Paris, in December 2019, to celebrate my 26th birthday as well as to visit my brother, who was there for study abroad. At the end of the trip we all flew back home to make it in time for Christmas.  🙂

Join us in welcoming our new therapist Alicia McAllister to our growing eTalkTherapy family, who brings with her a wealth of experience and a refreshing perspective on the importance of therapy and what makes therapy successful. Alicia’s areas of focus include depression and anxiety. Get to know more about Alicia in this Q&A:

What does therapy mean to you?

To me, therapy means that there is always a path to recovery. It is a safe space for everyone to feel accepted and heard.

What makes therapy successful?

What makes therapy successful is the collaboration and strong therapeutic relationship that a therapist and their client have. Having that relationship allows for the therapist and client to work as a team to help the client achieve their goals.

How has COVID-19 shaped your role as a therapist?

COVID-19 has shaped my role as a therapist by helping me learn how to overcome unexpected obstacles, both in my personal and professional life, so that I can still offer support to those in need.

 What is your life philosophy?

“The meaning of life is to find your gift, the purpose of life is to share it” -unknown 

Describe yourself in three words?

Funny, Motivated, Loyal

What was the last movie you saw? Thoughts on it?

The last movie I watched was Enola Holmes on Netflix. I thought that it was a cute movie and I liked how the protagonist was witty and smart.

If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be AND why?

I would want to meet Fannie Lou Hamer because she played a major role in the women’s rights and civil rights movements.

Share something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?

Others would be surprised to learn that I love musicals.

If you are looking to make positive changes in your life, we can help! Please contact us today about how to register and schedule your live video counseling session with Alicia.

Follow eTalkTherapy on Facebook and Twitter for updates and articles related to good mental health!

Dealing with people who are codependent

How to cope with someone who is codependent

They need to be needed and it’s overwhelming

Article by Don Laird, NCC, LPC, DCC

Who among us has not experienced the family member who needs to be needed? The person who for various reasons becomes the family rescuer? A “martyr,” “savior” or “saint” that will come through for others even at the expense of their own well-being? Codependency by its very definition means that there is a mutually dependent relationship, and it is at times frustrating and unsettling when that person is a family member or a significant other.

The question that comes to mind is why would someone want to be a full-time rescuer? What benefit is there to a person if they are driven to a point of being unhappy, resentful, chronically stressed, and physically or emotionally ill?

People who struggle with codependency typically grow up with an adult family member who demands perpetual emotional care. Often this is a parent who never reached full emotional maturity. The phenomena of the “helicopter parent” comes to mind; a parent who won’t allow for his or her child to experience the world as both a place of kindness and a place where you do indeed get hurt, sometimes badly. The codependent needs to be needed, and this is where things become challenging and chaotic when their way of understanding the world is threatened.

I am because I serve.

Love, confidence and self-esteem get knotted up with unending service. The codependent grows up starving for love and affection, as someone who desires to be completed in the service of others. They feel significant not for who they are, but for what they do. The world is only as safe as they deem it to be and they must protect those they love in the unhealthiest way possible; by sacrificing their own sense of being. As a result, there can be little to no internal change for this person, that energy is redirected into trying to mold the world around them. What psychological stability they can attain is contingent on making people dependent on them. This makes them fragile, resistant to change, and by all accounts a martyr.

This is not to imply someone who is codependent lacks empathy, thoughtfulness or understanding. Those qualities can be quite genuine. The issue is ingrained in what tacit emotional agenda accompanies them. This could oscillate between exhaustive periods of giving and sudden “I need to love me first!” moments of resentment. The choice is never me and you, but an emotionally immature me or you. People cannot be related to as equals, but instead are seen as those who are in need of my service, and they should be eternally grateful and indebted for my efforts.

Codependency involves a deeply rooted and highly persistent combination of attitudes, values, beliefs, and habits that will not be solved by reading a self-help book or by getting a prescription from the family doctor. Moreover, deciding to be self-loving won’t do anything either. “Loving me before I can love others,” suggests the same type of self-sacrifice that drives a co-dependent individual in a most unhealthy way, I am learning to love myself, so now I can serve others better.”

Relational conflicts require relational healing. Therapy is perhaps one of the few ways to create a relational world outside of the codependent’s universe. In most unresolved emotional conflicts past events remain shrouded in grief, regret and loss. These conflicts are often reinforced by attempts to self soothe or cure the feelings.

Beneath the worry and anxiety of someone with codependency sits an unconscious desire to obtain love, security and approval. Yet, for better or worse, the external world is not built to meet this internal need. Facing and allowing for loss and letting go submits an individual to a deep and valuable period of mourning – For the ill family member who could not be cured; for the child who did not get into the “right” school; for the vacation that did not go as planned; for the loss of love and support. Though difficult, and at times painful, mourning can ignite the process of healing. Creating a new role for those who were at one time in need of my “saving,” allowing them to be who or what they actually are instead of trying to rescue them, also creates a sense of emotional maturity.

We should remember that those who struggle with codependency are highly sensitive and caring individuals. Somewhere along the way their emotional speedometer jumped from 0 to 60, and it has never been able to decrease to a healthier rate. Codependency is not a problem to be cured, but a life issue to be explored and discussed. If you feel you are struggling because of issues related to codependency contact us to schedule a confidential appointment or a free consultation.

In good health,
Don

Couple in need of relationship help

Does Couples Therapy Work?

Will couples counseling really improve my marriage?

Article by Don Laird, MS, NCC, LPC, DCC

Seeing a couple’s therapist is not the first step toward divorce or separation. It is not about blaming your spouse or partner for everything that is wrong in your relationship, and it is certainly not about admitting defeat. Couples need to be open to therapy, particularly if the arguments, lies, and hurt feelings are leading both to think that the relationship is permanently stuck. Couples need to be ready to work at their relationship and not expect the therapist to “fix” it for them. So, when is it time to hit the couples’ couch, you ask? Here are some indicators that couples therapy is the next step in your relationship:

Do you fear sharing your feelings with your spouse or partner?  Do you feel as though it is not even worth opening your mouth? Then it’s time to consult a therapist. Couples find themselves seeking help for several reasons, but poor communication and mistrust are the two chief complaints of most couples. Communication encompasses verbal contact (how well you converse and argue as a couple), written communique (texting and other forms of electronic messages), and the all-important social cues, “Did you just roll your eyes at me!”

Being “stuck” may be the biggest sign that you and your partner need therapy. But what does “stuckness” look like? Simply put, it feels like the couple is doing the same thing repeatedly, and no matter how hard they try to change, things always end up the same or worse. In many ways, they have just given up because that is the path of least resistance.

Consider couples therapy as a proactive endeavor. I highly recommend that any couple seeking marriage or a live-in situation seek therapy before doing so. Sure, you love each other, sure you’re not your parents or neighbors, and your relationship seems sturdy enough, but why take the risk of not openly and honestly discussing how each of you might react or feel under the stress of life events like: infidelity, family issues, or financial strain? Why wait until you are in a relationship with no clue how to navigate the arguments or respectfully engage with the other, or worse yet, give up all together.

Intimacy in a relationship isn’t just about sex. It is also about our ability to be vulnerable with the other. When intimacy fades from a relationship, couples therapy is a must. Intimacy refers to the feeling of being in a close personal relationship and belonging together. It is a familiar and effective connection with another because of a bond that is formed through knowledge and experience of the other. Intimacy suffers when the space and distance created by one or both people is no longer tolerable. Sex (if it is happening at all) feels empty, moments that used to create laughter and sharing are no longer happening, and that “connection” you had, well, that seems like a distant memory. Can you hug your significant other without cringing? If not, it’s time to seek professional assistance.

Remember it is always important to consider whether your relationship is ready for therapy, but don’t throw in the towel just yet. Give it a chance. You can get all the advice and affirmations you need from family, friends, and self-help gurus, but there is no substitute for working together with a professional therapist in a space that is designed to help your marriage or relationship mature and grow.

If you would like to continue the conversation about your relationship or marriage click here to schedule a Free Consultation  or click here to loginand  talk  with one of our couples therapists.

In Good Health,
Don