Posts Tagged ‘anger’

Why do clients come to therapy?

Written by Sharon Coulter, MA, PPS, MA LMFT on . Posted in Blog

A client asked me this past week why people come to me for therapy. It was a great question. In the culture I grew up in, you only went to a therapist if you were “crazy,” so of course hardly anyone sought out help unless they were experiencing a severe mental health crisis. You were also served platitudes, such as, “You need to suck it up,” or “Get it together.” Sound familiar?

What a price has been paid by so many people who have grappled alone with functioning in the world – because of their own misunderstood struggles, or the dysfunction of partners or family units.

Today, I’m happy we’ve come so far and therapy has become another important resource for people to draw from on this journey we call life. In my experience, here are my “Top Reasons for Therapy” and why I’m so honored to work with the courageous souls who seek me out.

  • To make a change
  • To address an emotional issue like anger, anxiety, sadness, depression, loneliness, shame
  • To address a physical issue that has emotional impact (what one doesn’t)
  • To resolve trauma (seemingly “small” – or “significant”; note, all trauma affects us)
  • To address an addiction or disorder that is getting in the way of relationships and life goals
  • To work though limiting beliefs and unhelpful ways of thinking
  • To learn to express emotions
  • To learn to communicate in ways that maintain connection with others, especially during conflict
  • To work through a mental block
  • To address phobias or release fear of something
  • Spiritual incongruence
  • Lack of meaning in life
  • Lack of a sense of belonging
  • Support for a quest of some kind that has been ignited
  • To understand a sense of incompleteness
  • To address a desire to live life more fully and understand what that means
  • To learn self acceptance
  • To learn self forgiveness
  • To identify co-dependent patterns and understand healthy boundaries
  • To process loss
  • Help with a life transition (geographic moves, careers, relationships, life stages)
  • Help to support the process of aging
  • A safe space to support the dying process (self and others)
  • A sense of being “lost”

Of course, many of the above issues are multi-dimensional and overlap. Perhaps some of them resonate for you. Whatever you’re struggling with or want to further develop within yourself, I hope you’ll consider finding a therapist who can support you to create the change you deserve.

Blending Families – what you should know

Written by Sharon Coulter, MA, PPS, MA LMFT on . Posted in Blog

While the divorce rate dropped 18% between 2008 and 2016 and is currently around 32%, divorced individuals meeting new partners continue to come together with their children and attempt to “blend” families. Though best intention may be at the heart of the desire to bring two families together, successful outcomes seem few and far between (with more anecdotal than hard research data available). As a therapist who does work in the area of grief and bereavement and has a blended family, I feel the complications in trying to unite two families are mostly tied to themes of loss.

The potential pitfalls that blended families will have to navigate are complex. Here are the top 10:

  1. Conflict over differing boundaries – what is and isn’t okay in each family.
  2. Confusion and anger about differing rules and consequences.
  3. Loss related to the definitive ending of a child’s original family constellation is triggered (children usually hold out hope that biological parents may unite).
  4. For children to embrace a stepparent may feel like a violation of loyalty to the child’s biological parent.
  5. For children whose parents have been divorced for some time, the introduction of a new spouse may feel like another loss and bring up fear that they will be loved less (children tend to think of love as finite). Anxiety and depression may manifest.
  6. Sharing of one’s home, personal belongings, community space, bedroom may trigger anger and further feelings of loss for children.
  7. Children may feel pulled in many ways in terms of their role as they go back and forth between biological parents and try to navigate different households.
  8. Parents may struggle to form attachments with their step children and stepchildren may struggle to form attachments with their stepparents.
  9. Relationships with ex-wives and ex-husband’s take on another degree of complexity for adults that affect the children.
  10. Financial equity of all children may be especially difficult when ex- spouses are involved.

My goal in highlighting these difficulties is not to deter people from attempting to blend families. The blending of families can benefit children in many positive ways and provide stability and a healthy environment that was previously missing from their lives. However, what most families fail to do is enter counseling prior to blending in an effort to anticipate and resolve many of the issues above, which may be further complicated by children’s ages, ethnicity, and cultural and religious factors. Instead, couples forge ahead hoping that love and patience will be enough.

Hopefully, this blog will help adults have a deeper understanding of the potential issues that may arise. If you’re contemplating blending your family, I encourage you to work with a mental health professional who has experience in this area and who can help guide you and your loved ones in a way that will support the best possible outcome for everybody. Anticipating issues, talking them through, and figuring how to handle them before they arise is key.

Reference: University of Maryland; The Coming Divorce Decline, Philip Cowen, https://osf.io/preprints/socarxiv/h2sk6/

Can your Love Relationship be Saved?

Written by Sharon Coulter, MA, PPS, MA LMFT on . Posted in Blog

Couples - trackDoes it feel like you and your partner are competitors instead of allies? Have the small kindnesses vanished from your daily interactions? Are you walking on egg shells for fear of saying something that will cause conflict, anger, or hurt? Do you avoid each other more than seek one another out?

When couples come for counseling because their relationship is in trouble, as a therapist my main goal is to watch for and understand the patterns that inevitably show up in a couple’s interactions, so together we can understand what is going wrong despite their best efforts. It is incredibly helpful to examine arguments because they are never about what they appear to be. That bears repeating: while couples get caught up in the details, the argument is almost never about what it appears to be. There is an important theme playing out as that conflict and BOTH partners are engaged in the dance that fuels it. Identifying the theme is the critical factor.

I believe we are always doing our best in the moment with the tools we have, but many of us didn’t witness healthy relationships in our parents’ interactions, and our awareness and skills need improvement. To be emotionally close to someone as we are in the early days or years of a relationship is a magical thing. To be in conflict with the person who we deeply love causes us immense anxiety, pain, and sadness—so why would we purposely inflict those feelings on ourselves if we knew how to avoid them.

Love relationships are amazing structures that can teach us about what we didn’t get growing up. We need to figure out what that is or we’re destined to seek it, unconsciously, in this relationship, and the next, and the next—usually in ways that leave us feeling alone, misunderstood, and end up sabotaging the partnership.

The First Step

Effective counseling requires that couples come out of their corners in the boxing ring and embrace a new position with regard to the relationship—a united front of honesty, curiosity, and collaboration. Yes, I know … much more difficult than it sounds. That’s why an objective and caring intermediary—pastor, therapist or counselor—can be vital. When couples are trying to fix their problems from a place of fear—which is the source of all conflict—solutions are extremely difficult to recognize. I support clients to identify that fear and investigate it with deep compassion.

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” ~ Einstein