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Relationship Problem Advice
Children, teens and adults all frequently request relationship problem advice in therapy sessions. This is because relationships are of such great importance in our lives. Our interactions with our family, friends, coworkers and significant others has a tremendous impact on our happiness. Depression and anxiety can often be partially treated by exploring the relationships in a person’s life and making small changes in the way interactions occur. I created these pages because I feel these issues are strongly related to the conditions I treat in my practice. Please return back as they are under construction.
Family relationships set the foundation for all later success in relationships. We frequently will imitate the patterns we learn in our family. A simple example is communication. If you grew up in a big Italian family that was often yelling, then that might be the way you express your feelings. This may be something you need to work on if you are now in a relationship with someone who came from a family that rarely expressed their emotions in such a way!
Another common and reoccurring issues I see in my practice is how a person’s relationship to anger is learned from their family. Anger is one of the emotions we have the most trouble expressing, and the way our family identifies, discusses and expresses anger strongly influences how we will later behave.
Family relationships help to establish the basic ability to trust which then translates to your ability to trust in all later relationships. Women who have troubled relationships with their fathers, for example, often have troubled relationships with men later in their life. Please click here for more information on trust and how it impacts relationships. Another issue that is established early on in life is how we interact with our own needs and others, and the formation of boundaries with others. Click here to learn about codependency.
Communication is one of the most important areas of relationship problem advice that I find myself working on. Communication occurs on many different levels. Communication isn’t just what we say it’s what we imply through our tone. Our non verbal body language is a big part of communication as well. For example, if you are slumped down, are rolling your eyes are twitching or shaking other people are picking up on those cues regardless of what you say! In fact, most of us pay more attention to body language then the actual words someone is using.
Dysfunctional communication styles can often be labeled emotional abuse. It may not be intentional, but the effect is extremely harmful. These kinds of patterns can exist within families, friendships, in the work place, and also in marriage or dating relationships. Learning about abusive communication styles and how they impact your relationships is helpful.
One thing I often find in therapy that dramatically improves happiness and communication is assertiveness training. You can learn about what assertive communication is here. And how to start with one small tip here. Learn a little about asking for help and the damage done by criticism. Learn about communication and mindfulness here.
Although I am not a couple’s counselor, I spend alot of my time giving dating and relationship problem advice. This is especially true with teen girls. Most teenage girls define themselves to a large extent by their success in relationships with the opposite sex (or same sex romantic relationships in some cases). Their self esteem is tremendously affected by these experiences. They also often begin to establish unhealthy patterns of choosing mates as early as these years. Through exploring these ideas in therapy they are often able to understand the unhealthy patterns they may have and make adjustments so they are in healthier relationships.
This is also often the case with grown women and women. It does not matter if you are wealthy, successful, attractive or otherwise satisfied; almost everyone feels they need to have a mate. Not having a partner (being single) or having difficulty with partners is often an area that causes great distress, anxiety and depression.
Friendships are another area I often spend time helping clients with in therapy. Friendships are important especially to women. Girlfriends are to teenage girls as well. I spend just about as much time helping them with friendships as dating. Adult women are the same. Frequently their friend’s problems and behaviors are of great concern to them. Friendships are also a tremendous factor in mediating depression. Friends can help get you out of the house, cheer you up , and give you perspective. I often joke with women that we should have a match.com for friendships. The older you get the harder it seems to be to make friends.
Workplace relationships are also an area that significantly contributes to depression and anxiety. Many clients I have come seeking help because of burnout . I consider this a form of depression.The daily stress of interactions with colleagues and bosses can also cause or aggravate depression and anxiety. Small changes in how you view your workplace or interact with coworkers can often help to make you feel better.Career dissatisfaction can also lead to depression. It is hard when you are depressed to make the changes necessary to get out of such a situation, but with some support and coaching it is possible
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This page is about how self-compassion and mindfulness and skills such as forgiveness, kindness and compassion can help us with depression and anxiety.