About Relationships

Short, Soft, Slow, Simple

Psychotherapy hinges on the therapist’s ability to listen carefully and respond appropriately.  Since people pay me for my opinions I am happy to share them.  A big part of my job includes knowing when to listen and when to talk.  Sometimes it's helpful for me to give a client a lengthy perspective about what we are discussing.  My goal is for my clients to see themselves or a situation they are dealing with in a new light. 

Better Is Better Than Best

I've previously discussed the concept that "progress works backwards", meaning that growth toward a desired goal generally happens in incrementally improving stages. I find a lot of hope in the idea that what initially seems like "failure" is more productively viewed as useful feedback on the path to ultimate success. A related philosophy is the idea that "better is often better than best". This may initially seem to be a confusing and contradictory statement, but the idea is actually both simple and comforting.

Stop Lying.

One of my Atlanta counseling and psychotherapy specialities is to help people who have a problem with chronic infidelity and sexual deception.  This kind of behavior happens for many different conscious and unconscious causes.  Even though there is no single reason for this kind of behavior, if I had only one piece of advice and 10 seconds to give it, it would be this:

Stop lying.  Forever.  About anything.    

How Do You Paint a Flower?

 

People who appreciate art know that the same image can be viewed in many ways. Van Gogh, Rembrandt or Picasso will depict the same flower very differently. Is any one of them "wrong"? Of course not. Each artist reveals some essential aspect of that flower's beauty. This simple statement holds some wisdom for relationships.

Apologizing vs. Empathizing

 

I've previously written at length about the art of apologizing, since a full apology is much more than saying "I'm sorry".  It's important to highlight one point which gets often gets overlooked when one person tries to apologize to another. It involves the important distinction between apologizing and empathizing.

The Benefit of "I Love You, And....."

It's not unusual for two people to disagree with each other. In a committed relationship the presence of occasional conflict is inevitable, although the way couples deal with this issue varies widely.

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Heal vs. Fix

This is another in a long line of posts I've published about what I call "therapeutic distinctions", pairs of related concepts that are often used interchangeably but which reveal vitally important differences when examined more carefully.

 
Such is the case with "heal" versus "fix"

The Truth About Ultimatums

I recently worked with a client in my Atlanta counseling practice who reported that her partner "gave an ultimatum" for her to stop acting in a certain way. She asked for advice, which gave us an opportunity to discuss the nature of ultimatums. I decided to write it up in this brief post.  Eveb though it's a simple concept, these are sometimes the ones we tend to forget without a reminder from time to tome

No Tease Zone

From time to time in my counseling practice I find couples who have settled on a style of communication characterized by light-hearted teasing and amiable sarcasm. As good-natured as this communication style can appear on the surface I typically ask them to eliminate the practice of making fun of each other. I introduce the idea of establishing a "no tease zone" throughout their household. I encourage the elimination of this kind of genial teasing because it rarely leads to any productive growth in intimacy.

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Two Types of Power

Many years ago I read a little book called "The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How To Recognize It And How To Respond", by Patricia Evans. I still recommend this book (despite its unfortunate tendency toward anti-male bias) for its admirable job of highlighting the many types of verbal abuse. These include many subtle forms that may slip by unnoticed, such as discounting ("Oh, that's nothing"), blocking ("I don't want to talk about it"), diverting ("That's not the real issue, this is"),and trivializing ("Whatever"), all of which reinforce an unbalanced power dynamic.

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