Relationships // July 7, 2014

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Whether he’s happy or not, the mention of couple’s therapy is enough to send any guy running. The idea of airing out his dirty laundry in front of a stranger isn’t exactly what he’d consider a day well spent. But if your long-term relationship is in trouble, and you want to fix it, couples therapy may be just what you and your partner need. With that being said, knowing when couples therapy is a viable option is important. It obviously isn’t for everyone and every situation. Read on to see if couples therapy could end up being the solution you’ve been looking for.

Couples Therapy Could Save Your Relationship If …

  • You have a specific problem to resolve. Go into therapy with a specific set of issues you and your partner would like to see resolved. Don’t waste your time and money by going into therapy without a clear set of goals.
  • You fail to understand why you keep having the same fight. Every individual has triggers – specific things that bother them that wouldn’t necessarily bother others. Triggers often leave the other partner at a loss for what the issue is or why it’s even an issue at all. A therapist can effectively facilitate a discussion on these triggers and help couples understand the basis for these reactions without the name-calling or finger-pointing.
  • You want an honest outlook on your relationship. Therapists won’t endorse a relationship if he or she thinks you’re better off apart, and won’t sabotage a relationship that’s worth working on. You’ll have access to an unbiased view that you can’t necessarily get from family or friends. However, your therapist won’t push you in one direction or the other. Whether you stay together or not is a decision only you and your partner are able to make.
  • You’re ready to put it all out there. Therapy is all about full disclosure. It’s essential. Throughout therapy, your therapist will ask you about your relationship as a whole, not just what you feel needs to be worked on, as well as your respective relationship histories. Your answers will help the therapist identify your communication styles and your past relationships will make it easier to identify recurring patterns. Be fully prepared to participate in the process, or neither of you will benefit.

Couples Therapy Is Not For You If…

  • You’re looking for someone to take your side. Therapy isn’t one-sided. Both partners need to acknowledge that changes need to be made – in both his behavior and yours. Basically, keep an open mind and be prepared to hear good and bad about yourself, not just your partner.
  • You haven’t been in your relationship for a long time. If you’re heading to therapy before the one-year mark, it may be time to reassess your relationship: Are you truly compatible? What are the chances of a long-term relationship blossoming?
  • If you’re trying to sort out trivial matters, such as laundry or dish duty. Unless there is a true inability to communicate, therapy is best for dealing with issues that the two of you aren’t capable of sorting out on your own – like infidelity.
  • You want to dominate the session. You must prepare to listen and stay silent when your partner speaks or is giving their point of view. Growth can’t happen if you continuously interject when someone else has the floor.

Whether your relationship works out or not – and I hope it does – therapy is a chance and an opportunity to learn more about yourself and the way you interact with the people in your life. This could never be a bad thing. Good luck!

Published in Relationships
Thursday, 12 December 2013 23:10

Lifestyle | Should You See A Therapist?

Lifestyle // December 15, 2013

Mental health, therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor … the choices seem endless. While there are plenty for you to “choose” from, many people do not know WHEN to start considering professional help. Maintaining your mental health by seeing a licensed professional has taken on such a negative social stigma. Even admitting to yourself that you may need more help with a particular issue than solely the venting session at happy hour with your girlfriends may be embarrassing. Girl, shake off the embarrassment, shame or pride. There is nothing wrong with seeking help. Investing in her mental health is one of the best things a Made Woman can do for herself. Here are some general guidelines on when you should see a therapist:

  1. You do not feel like yourself lately and it is taking you longer than you anticipated to “snap out of it.” Many people overlook this red flag and are unaware of the symptoms of depression. In addition, did you know that you can be depressed and not even be aware of it? Here are some of the symptoms for depression: excess or lack of sleep, excess eating or lack thereof, irritability, weight loss or weight gains. (Please be aware, that a licensed clinician needs to make a diagnosis.)
  2. You’re acting out … I mean really acting out. Now, I know we all get in moods. But when we start to go overboard at happy hour Monday through Thursday, start behaving sexually in ways that are out of character or just make bad choices with no real thought behind it. Simply put, we take YOLO to the extreme with no justification. Extreme changes in behavior can be a sign that something is going on with you either consciously or unconsciously that needs to be addressed.
  3. All of the things you normally do to “cope” with day to day life are failing you. We all have different ways of coping with life’s stressors. Some people do yoga (not me), some people pour themselves into their work (definitely me), and others may shut down emotionally and withdraw from family and friends until the negative feelings “pass” or just ignore it. (Lots of people!) Unfortunately, sometimes what we do to “cope” does not work either because we have outgrown the coping mechanism or the problem seems to be too large for us to handle how we normally would. This is a great time to see a therapist. You can learn new coping skills while working through whatever is causing you trouble
  4. You really want to talk to your friends or family about what’s bothering you, but you are embarrassed. There are some things that are simply too difficult or embarrassing to discuss with friends or family. Either because we feel that we may be judged or we just do not want to share. Don’t walk around with your feelings bottled up inside of you like a ticking time bomb.
  5. Your problems feel so insurmountable that you have seriously thought about how you would end your life or what it would be like if you were dead. This is the biggest indicator that you need to seek professional help. Do not downplay how you feel by saying things like, “I’m just being dramatic.” According to SAVE, suicide takes the lives of nearly 30,000 Americans every year, and many who attempt suicide never seek professional care.

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Life is hard sometimes. And there is no shame in raising your hand and asking for help when things get too tough. For more information on where to find a licensed mental health practitioner visit the website for the National Institute of Mental Health. Get the help you need and make things easier on yourself.

Published in Lifestyle