Blog Items

Committing to nonviolent relationships- a new paradigm.

We live in a world where violent relationships are the norm rather than the exception. Very few days go by where we don’t hear about some extreme manifestation of a violent relationship somewhere in the world – an act of terrorism, our treatment of those displaced by the violence of others, a woman killed or seriously injured by her current or ex partner, children who have been physically or sexually abused by those who were entrusted with their care and protection.

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Unsticking polarising positions (and conversations) that block intimacy

Most of the time, when emotions aren't running too high, and where we feel good about where our relationship is at, we do a fairly good job of hearing our partner's different points of view. We may even do well at accepting where they are at, even if we don't understand it very well. However, when we don't feel as secure in our relationship, too often this very important skill fails us. Our need to BE understood and have our partner respond to us in a way that makes us feel secure may overtake our capacity to be the understanding and responsive one.

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Creating Attunement in Intimate Relationships

To feel close in our most important relationships, it's vital that we feel that our partner is responsive, attuned to what is going on for us and to what we are trying to communicate. When this doesn't happen, we may experience a range of feelings - we may feel lonely, disconnected, misunderstood. We may also have a range of thoughts based on our beliefs about our partner's intentions - we may think that they don't care, are self-focussed, or are incapable of thinking about our experiences and needs.

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Parenting after trauma

Parenting is a challenge at the best of times! If we have additionally suffered from trauma earlier in life - especially abuse, neglect, or other harm done to us by someone close - there may be additional challenges to manage. The normal things kids do can remind us of upsetting things in the past, and therefore become much harder to manage. For example, my child has trouble managing his angry feelings, and perhaps starts fights with his younger sibling when he is angry at him.

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How do I know when to let go or to fight for my relationship?

Many of us understand the importance of fighting for our relationship, especially where there are kids involved. We may do this in a number of ways - by being persistant in trying to encourage our partner to talk about things that are worrying them, by letting them know what we need in order to stay in the relationship, for example. We may also fight for our relationship in less direct ways - by choosing to avoid getting into conflict about issues that may not be possible to resolve, or by choosing to accept differences and flaws, for example.

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Reciprocity in intimate relationships

Sometimes it can feel a bit like 'tit for tat' - I gave you this, you should give me that! Most of us don't like to think about our intimate relationships in this way. We flourish in an environment where we can be generous about how we think about each other's needs, and where there is plenty of space for giving and receiving acts of love, nurturing and care in all of their many forms. But most of us do have a bottom line - the place where we say "Enough!".

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Tuning Relationships with Music: free counselling for parents and teens

Tuning Relationships with Music is a form of family counselling that I have developed, for parents and teenagers who would like to communicate better and have less conflict in their relationship with each other, where a parent also has had trauma earlier in life. I am testing out this therapy to see if it may be helpful for families, for my PhD studies at the Mindful Centre for Training and Research in Developmental Health, at the University of Melbourne.

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Holding your ground with your partner can be an intimacy-builder!

What do you think of, when you are asked what creates intimacy between you and your partner? Many of us think of physical intimacy (including sex), and emotional intimacy (connecting time to talk, spending quality time together doing things we enjoy etc). Research shows, though, that not only is conflict inevitable in relationships, but it can actually promote closeness and strengthen relationships when it is managed skilfully, and where issues can either be resolved or at least left open for ongoing discussion.

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What does our loved one's behaviour tell us about what they need?

Although we may struggle at times when our child is behaving in a way we experience as difficult, more often than not we are able to understand that behaviour as a way our child is communicating to us about their experience, and what they need. For example - my little one is screaming and waving his arms and legs about. I realise he is hungry, and so rather than punishing his behaviour, I make him something to eat. I may also use this as an opportunity to teach my child about the connection between what he is doing and how he is feeling, so I may say "You're so hungry right now!

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Why befriending your anger may be more helpful than 'managing' it

Many of us have been negatively affected by people close to us, who may have difficulty managing their anger. We may also have had our own struggles with how to keep control of our own anger, and found it hard to come to terms with the knowledge that this may push our loved ones away. Of course, expressing anger by being aggressive or even violent is NOT OK. It's important we are able to make decisions NOT to express our distress in a way that may make others feel intimidated or even scared. However, like all emotions, anger is a very important emotion.

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