Couples Counselling

Couples Counseling

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Do you feel exhausted and frustrated with your partner? Do you feel stuck, lonely, and overwhelmed because your partner is no longer there for you in the way you need them to be? It can be heartbreaking when the person you love is no longer there for you in the way you need and want. You long to feel connected with your partner but get stuck, argue, and feel more distant and disconnected. Your partner may withdraw, disengage, or avoid you after an argument. They may struggle with conflict and feel criticised. Part of them may also feel like they are not good enough for you, no matter how hard they try. We work together in counselling, focusing on where you get stuck, how you feel in these moments, and how we can move forward.

Where do you and your partner get stuck?

Partners can sometimes get stuck and disagree on various issues. For example, one partner may share feeling frustrated with their partner as they do not help with household chores. This partner consequently feels upset, frustrated, and exhausted. Over time, they feel unheard and unworthy, so they may start to resent their partner. On the other hand, their partner feels criticised each time they try to help with household chores. They worry that they are not doing a good enough job and feel judged when they help in the past. This partner feels stressed and anxious at the idea of doing household chores. As a result, they feel overwhelmed and shut down. They may also feel triggered each time their partner criticises them as they were criticised, growing up, by their partner. Their negative belief of not feeling good enough comes to the surface.  

Partners can sometimes struggle when they have a different attachment style to their partner. For example, one partner has an anxious attachment, and they worry each time that their partner does not respond to their message. This partner starts to overthink possible explanations for why their partner has not been in touch, and they start to worry about worst-case scenarios. One of these worst-case scenarios is that their partner will break up with them even though this is not something their partner has said. Their partner, who has more of an avoidant attachment, got busy at work, or their phone battery died; hence, they could not respond. This partner may do their best to reassure their partner that they have nothing to worry about, but they may struggle after a while. They may start to withdraw or avoid their partner, which in turn leaves their partner feeling more anxious.

Partners can sometimes get stuck when they have a different personality to their partner. For example, one partner is an extrovert, and they enjoy going out, socialising, and meeting new people. They enjoy interacting with a range of people, and they feel energised. They are aware that their partner is more of an introvert, so they do not enjoy interacting with large groups of people. They would rather spend time alone or with a few close friends. However, they feel left out and left behind when their partner spends time socialising. As a result, they ask to join their partner in social gatherings. They struggle to socialise during their social gatherings and sometimes feel more alone. Their partner feels worried about them and does their best to include them. They cannot enjoy themselves and, as a result, would rather their partner not join them at social gatherings.

Partners can sometimes feel disconnected and this can impact their physical intimacy. For example, one partner initiates physical intimacy each time, and in the beginning, this may not be an issue. However, over time, this partner may feel frustrated and annoyed that they are the ones to initiate any physical intimacy. It may also be difficult if their partner is less receptive and not wanting to engage in physical intimacy. As a result, the pursuing partner may stop pursuing, stop initiating, and feel upset towards their partner. They may yearn to feel connected to their partner, and physical touch may be one of their love languages. The partner who withdraws may feel guilty, embarrassed, and anxious around their partner. They may be struggling with their own unmet need, which consequently prevents them from wanting to engage in physical intimacy with their partner.

How can your attachment style impact your relationship?

You or your partner may have an anxious attachment style that may impact your relationship. For example, you may worry when your partner goes out of town for work. On the one hand, you understand that your partner is busy with work and, thus, unable to reply to your messages or calls. However, when you don’t hear back from your partner after several hours, you start to feel anxious and need reassurance from your partner. When this doesn’t happen, your anxiety may continue to increase, and when your partner does get in touch, you may feel upset, annoyed, and overwhelmed with your partner for not responding sooner. Outside of this, you may worry that your partner will break up with you each time you disagree. You are fearful when your partner goes out, in the evening, with their friends that you will not be able to reach them.

You or your partner may have an avoidant attachment style, impacting your relationship. For example, you may avoid certain conversations with your partner, including not wanting to talk about your future, not wanting to make plans during the holidays, and struggling to meet your partner’s family or friends. You may worry that something will eventually go wrong, and your partner will leave you. These worries may prevent you from connecting with your partner, and you may not feel comfortable talking about them. You may feel trapped and consider leaving your relationship sometimes, even though this is not what you want. You also withdraw from your partner when you are struggling and find it hard to let your partner. We can change this pattern in counselling by focusing on your worries and fears.

What is Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)?

EFT focuses on your and your partner’s attachment style and how this comes to the surface in your relationship. As a counsellor, I will be curious to learn how you and your partner engage with one another both in and outside counseling sessions. We focus on where you both get stuck in your relationship, and we identify the cycle. I explore emotions with each of you and ask how you felt, where in your body feelings surfaced, what thoughts arose, and what behavior you engaged in. I learn from each of you how disagreements and the cycle impact you individually. Together, we also identify each of your needs and explore each of your fears. EFT aims to strengthen your bond and connection with your partner.

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How can counselling help?

In counselling, we explore how you and your partner feel and how this impacts your relationship. For example, one partner may feel frustrated that their partner is busy doing their own thing and doesn’t appear to have time for them. This frustration may also result in them shouting and name-calling. Underneath this frustration is hurt and disappointment. This partner wants to feel connected to their partner, and because they do not feel heard, they turn the volume up. However, this does not have the desired outcome, and instead, their partner withdraws or avoids them. This partner may not realise that underneath their partner’s frustration is a longing to feel connected. They may also not know how lonely their partner feels because their partner may not have shared this with them. It may be easier to express frustration than hurt or disappointment.

In counselling, we explore each partner’s attachment pattern and how this may impact their relationship. We focus on each partner’s childhood, who comforted them when they were growing up, and their relationship with their attachment figure. You may have grown up in a family where your parents stayed together, but they often argued. Perhaps you were raised by a single parent, and you may not be in contact with your other parent. The aim is to identify any unmet attachment needs from your childhood and determine whether this impacts your current relationship. You may have explored issues regarding your childhood and attachment needs in individual counselling; hence, they may not impact your relationship. Regardless of your attachment pattern, we work together in counselling to build healthy, secure attachments between you and your partner.

Couples are sometimes keen to start counselling as they want help with communication. One partner will explain that they need support in communicating with their partner. For example, you feel your partner does not help with household chores despite you repeatedly asking for their help. On the surface, the presenting conflict or disagreement is household chores and that one of you does more than the other. As a result, you feel resentful, frustrated and exhausted. You want your partner to help, but no matter how you share your feelings, your partner does not help. Underneath this resentment and frustration, you may feel unheard and undervalued. You may think that you do not matter to your partner because if you did, they would hear you and help. Your partner, on the other hand, works full time and tries to help; however, they have a different approach to tasks, which you criticise, question, and judge.

I offer couples counselling sessions in person and online. My in-person sessions are in Burnaby, and my online sessions are over Jane. 

Couples counselling session $160 for 50 minutes 

Call 604-997-4757 and speak to any of our office staff to learn more or schedule an appointment.

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If you are feeling stuck and want support please contact me

604-997-4757