Individual Counselling

Couples Weekend Workshop July 2016

Hold Me Tight: Conversations for Connection
Weekend Workshop for Couples

July 22nd, 23rd, 24th in Kelowna BC Canada
Royal Anne Hotel 348 Bernard Avenue

This great program has some amazing results such as:

• A renewed closeness and deeper intimacy from talking about and resolving the deeper fears and insecurities

• Helping couples unleash from unhealthy patterns of conflict such as attacking each other and/or withdrawing

• Learning how to effectively resolve conflicts

• Learning how to build healthy communication skills and by communicating deeper feelings and needs directly.

• Increased emotional, physical and sexual intimacy

If you would like to see these kinds of results in your relationship, or you know a couple in need renewing there closeness please call me directly to reserve a spot (250) 863-7863 in the next upcoming workshop.

More Info:

Program: Written and developed by Dr. Sue Johnson the leading expert in the field of couple’s therapy. Based on her book: Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love.

Presented by: Robin Morgan MSW RSW RCC of A Path of Heart of Heart Counselling Services. Robin is a counsellor who specializes in Marriage and Couples Therapy using Dr. Sue Johnson’s Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy.

Everyone who is in a relationship should take this course with their partner. Everyone with a failed relationship in their past or a first or next relationship in their future should read the book. Emotion Focused Therapy is effective and enlightening, you learn about your partner and you learn about yourself. It will change the way that you look at the life you are living and teach you to create the life you want together.
~ Anonymous Kelowna BC

More testimonials:

Pre-registration is required spots are limited. To pre-register for next group, please call (250) 863-7863
Price $599/per couple. A $100.00 non-refundable deposit is required at the time of registration to hold a spot. This price does not include the price of accommodations.

More info:

For more info or to pre-register please call (250) 863-7863.


When Little Things are Not Little Things

Do you ever wonder why you are having these huge blow ups in your relationship about seemly little things? Recently at training I learned that we should ALL think about our relationships in 3 parts. 1/3 of the time we are feeling connected, 1/3 of the time there is a break in that connection (fears, triggers come up that cause conflict and distancing), and 1/3 of the time we are repairing that connection. Unfortunately most couples do not know how to effectively repair without getting themselves back into more conflict or feeling stuck. They end up dealing with conflicts by sweeping them under the rug.

The problem with this solution is that the real adult attachment fears and needs never get brought out in the open and shared (fears such as: not feeling important or a priority, not feeling cared about, valued, accepted, special, wanted, or like you can really rely on or count on your partner). What happens when these fears and needs are never shared?

These seemly little things like being late, forgetting to say hello or good bye, seeing your partner on their phone or face book, being busy, has BIGGER meaning and creates BIG reactions to little things. If you’re already feeling afraid that you’re not cared about, special, or important, these little things just seem to really confirm your fears. Most people have two ways of dealing with these fears they either blow up in anger or shutting down which just causes more conflicts.

If this sounds like your relationship I suggest that you give us a call to sign up for our upcoming Couples Intensive Weekend in Kelowna BC on July 6th, 7th, and 8th so you can learn how to open up and talk about these adult attachment fears (we all have them) and get the reassurance you need to “let little things be little things.”

Deeper Insecurities Drive Conflict in Relationship

Most people attribute conflict in relationships as problems with the kids, money, stress or sex. All of these things add pressures to relationships; however they are not the root cause of conflict. The may cause of the problem is that the ways that couples are trying to communicate their attachment needs is causing core insecurities in each partner.

As stated previously, 80% of the couples that come into the therapy room are caught up the same negative communication dance. One partner (Pursuer) is feeling alone and afraid that they are losing their partner and pursues connection with them with angry questioning, demanding, and criticism while the other partner (Withdrawer) is feeling hurt and afraid that they will be rejected and not good enough and they often defend, blow up or withdraw to protect themselves and the relationship from further conflict. As they move away the Pursuer panics more and attacks creating a vicious cycle that feeds deep insecurities.

Couples need to learn how to identify the pattern that they are getting caught in and realize that the pattern is the problem not their partner. Once you unlatch yourself from the conflict (or it is over) it is important to tune into your feelings inside and ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?’ “What do I need for reassurance?” In therapy I work towards finding the deeper insecurities and create the safety for those insecurities to be brought out in the therapy room and reassured.

The Pursuer in the relationship is often in a very painful and fearful position in the relationship. The more they see their partner withdraw and look uninterested in spending time with them the more they panic inside and feel afraid that they are losing their partner. Sometimes their deepest insecurities relate to themselves. They may think, “I not lovable” “I’m too much (too crazy/angry/bad)” (with all my angry reactions) “They are not attracted to me” “They do not like me as a person” “Am I not important or special to them” “They really don’t care or value me” “Am I unworthy an undeserving of my partner’s love and care.” There biggest fear is that they are going to drive their partner away and ultimately be abandoned and alone.

The Withdrawers insecurities are usually based around fears of rejection. They may think things such as, “I am not good enough for my partner” “I am inadequate; I fall short of what she/he needs” “I am not valued” “I am useless or worthless” “I have failed as a partner.” Often the withdrawer will blow up or defend because underneath that are afraid that they are inadequate or failing and they want to hide that fear.

The negative communication pattern of attack vs. withdraw/defend creates and exacerbates these insecurities. However what couples don’t realize is that the deeper insecurities also drive the pattern. Little things take on different meanings to the point that everything starts to mean that you are losing your partner’s love or failing. Learning that the negative pattern is the causing the problem and how to identify it and stop it is the first step to healing your relationship. Creating the safety in therapy for these deep insecurities to brought out and reassured is essential for couples to find their way back to feeling peace within themselves and within their relationship.

If you feel like you can relate to some of these relationship problems and want to seek help please call A Path of Heart Counselling for Couples Counselling or a Couples Weekend Workshop.

Infidelity: Does It Tear You Apart or Can it Bring you Closer Than Ever?

The general consensus in society is that infidelity within a relationship is unacceptable, unforgivable and it will destroy any hope of trusting again or being close. This article presents a different view. The trauma of infidelity creates a lot of pain and fear and insecurity however, processing the injury in therapy can also create a deep sense of closeness, intimacy, understanding, and lead couples back to finding the relationship of their dreams.

Infidelity within the relationship has a huge impact on both partners. The injured partner often suffers a hug blow to their self esteem. They begin to question if their appearance is ok and often become insecure about their body image. They also question their ability to really “be enough” for their partner. The injured partner lives in a dangerous, painful world filled with constant triggers and obsessive thoughts related to insecurities and the time of the infidelity. They often look at their partner and think, “Who are you really?” lost in confusion they can not understand how their partner acted loving and kind towards them and the other person at the same time. It makes them seriously question “What was real?” and “What is real now?” They feel very afraid that it will happen again. They also feel ashamed, humiliated and embarrassed to be “duped” or “the fool.” The other partner often feels an immense amount of shame and guilt for what happened. They often get stuck in a vicious cycle where the injured partner is voicing their obsessive thoughts and fears in a demanding, angry way (or completely shutting down) and the other partner is trying to shut down or avoid the discussion to prevent feeling ashamed and bad about themselves and what they did. These are the painful places that couples end up stuck in after the find out about an infidelity. This vicious cycle feels like it is going to rip the relationship apart.

The good news is that a couple’s relationship can grow very strong and close after processing an infidelity in marriage therapy. Once a sense of safety is established in therapy the deeper hurt and fears of the injured partner are expressed and the other partner witnesses begins to witness the devastating impact that they have had on their partner’s self-esteem and the relationship. The partner that caused the infidelity usually feels and shows a lot of remorse and regret for their actions. It is only until this deep hurt and pain is fully felt, expressed and understood that the injuring partner really recognizes how much hurt they have caused. (All too often this hurt is hidden by anger and frustration and never seen). When the injured partner sees that their partner is more fully aware their pain and feels a lot of shame and remorse for what they did, the relationship begins to repair.  Then the injured partner begins to open up and talk about some of the deeper fears and insecurities that they feel. The couple is able to identify that they get stuck in a negative communication cycle when these fears come up. They work together to stop the cycle and deal directly with the fears. The other partner stand by them and gives them ongoing reassurance and comfort when the fears and triggers come up. They work together over time, with the fears to help the injured partner realize that their deepest fears are not true, that they are enough, and they are loved.

Often infidelity happens in couples because there is a lack of emotional intimacy. I have found that the hurt and pain caused by the infidelity and the need to for reassurance creates a deep sense of intimacy between the partners because are forced to open and discuss their deepest fears and longings.  This creates a platform for deep intimacy in the future. The couple begins to develop an understanding of why the infidelity happened by recognizing that a lot of their adult attachment needs were not being met in the relationship. In every relationship we all have adult attachment needs: to feel special, important, cared about, appreciated, valued and safe. We want to feel that our partner is there for us emotionally when we really need them. Many couples come to the conclusion that the problem was caused together, by not making an effort to really meet each others attachment needs. From this point on the relationship can blossom because the couple is aware of what their attachment needs are and puts more time and energy into taking care of each other.

In essence couples go through a huge trauma when infidelity happens in their relationship. However this trauma creates a deep sense of intimacy and understanding in the relationship. Couples then go forward working to create the relationship that they have always wanted; usually a relationship where they feel special, important, cared about emotionally, and deeply valued.

A Path of Heart Counselling Services in Kelowna offers couples counselling for infidelity and is also offering an upcoming couples weekend based on Dr. Sue Johnson’s  Hold Me Tight Program and book. Contact Robin to get on the mailing list for the future workshop dates.

The Ultimate Conflict Repair Exercise

I have created the ultimate conflict repair exercise by combining Dr. Sue Johnson’s work along with the work of John Gottman. In the past I have found that both exercises were good however they were both missing important information. For instance Sue Johnson’s Hold Me Tight Conversation 4  exercise was excellent at helping couples get quickly in touch with deeper feelings but it was missing the listening/validating piece. The John Gottman exercise we have personally used many times within our own relationship but I find that having each person go over their side of the conflict in length can take a long time and it is hard to get to the “jist” of what happened and the deeper feelings, so Sue Johnson’s exercise offers a quicker deeper solution.

So here they are combined together the best of both worlds enjoy:

ARE Conversation for Connecting and Healing Conflicts

Instructions: This exercise is for processing or working through conflicts or negative feelings. The goal here is to increase the understanding between the two of you without falling back into the conflict.

The belief here is that there is no absolute reality in a disagreement , but rather there are two subjective realities.

This exercise is designed to help you understand these two realities and to ease similar situations in the future.

1.  Identify a Specific Moment– Identify a specific moment during a fight or times of distance when you suddenly feel more vulnerable or on guard.

2.  Identify Most Negative Thought–  Identify the most negative thoughts that go through your head at that point? What is the worst, most catastrophic thought about your partner, yourself or your relationship? (For example: “He/She doesn’t care.” “I am never going make it here or measure up.” “We are going to fight and split up.”)

3. Identify Deeper Feelings – Choose from the list below to pick the words that best describe the deeper emotion that comes up for you in these moments. This is often some kind of fear about yourself or your partner and how he or she feels about you. It may be some kind of anguish or hurt.

Lonely Worried/Shaky Let down Hopeless Panicked Sad
Inadequate Failing/Ashamed Isolated Alone Humiliated Scared
Helpless Lost/Confused Unwanted Dismissed Intimidated Unattractive
Vulnerable Insignificant Rejected Overwhelmed Angry Criticized
Defensive Misunderstood Small Powerless Hurt Unappreciated
Unfairly picked on Like my partner doesn’t like me Taken for granted I have no influence Out of Control My opinions don’t matter

4.  Share Thoughts and Feelings– Each one of you takes a turn in sharing your subjective reality about the disagreement including your worst thoughts and the feelings that came up for you. It is important that when you share you try to use language that helps you own your perspective and reduces the amount of blame towards the other person. Example is saying, “My worst thought is _______” or “My mind is telling me _______” or “The story I have in my head says_______” or “My perspective is________.”

5.  Share the Need– What specific reassurance or response from your partner would help you with these feelings right now? See if you can tell your partner in a short, simple, and direct way what it is that you need from him/her when these feelings come up? This need or longing is usually for some kind of caring, comfort or reassurance.

See the common adult attachment needs below:

     I need to feel or sense that….

1. I am so special to you that you really value our relationship. I need that reassurance that I am number one with you and that nothing is more important.
2. I am wanted by you, as a partner and a lover that making me happy is important to you.
3. I am loved and accepted, with my failings and imperfections. I can’t be perfect for you.
4. I am needed. You want me close.
5. I am safe because you care about my feelings, hurts and needs.
6. I can count on you to be there for me, to not leave me alone when I need you  the most.
7. I will be heard and respected. Please don’t dismiss me or leap into thinking the worst of me. Give me the chance to learn how to be with you.
8. I can count on you to hear me and to put everything else aside.
9. I can ask you to hold me and to understand that just asking is very hard for me.

6.  Listening Partner
Focuses intently on what their partner is saying.
Tries to understand their partner’s deeper feelings and subjective reality of the situation.
After the sharing partner has finished the listening partner validates their partner’s subjective reality by saying, “I really understand that you felt _________ when _________ and __________ happened.”
Then they reassure their partner about their need: Example: “I hear you that you need to feel cared about and important and I want to reassure you that you the most important person in my life and I care about you very much.
Remember you are here to listen, validate and reassure your partner do NOT go into defending or sharing your feelings or side of the story.

Partner’s switch turns and the listening partner has a chance to share his/her thoughts, feelings and need, while the other listens.

7.  Admit your Role- It is essential that each of you takes some responsibility for what happened. Each person takes some accountability for how the conflict came about.

8.  Make it Better in the Future

1. What is one thing your partner could do differently next time?
2. What is one thing that you could do differently next time?

Are you flooded?- If at any time during the conflict repair one or both partners become flooded with emotion it is important to take a break, calm your self down (make take up to an hour) and then come back and finish the repair exercise.

Robin Menard MSW RCC RSW
Marriage and Couple Specialist
A Path of Heart Counselling Services