Working in a profession that involves giving to others can be incredibly rewarding, but it can also be challenging and emotionally taxing. Care professionals like counsellors, nurses, care givers, and social workers spend a significant amount of time, energy, and emotions supporting others in their time of need. While these professions have a strong sense of altruism and a desire to help others, it’s important to remember that self-care and support are necessary to prevent burnout and maintain their own well-being.
Why Support is Crucial
Care professionals often work in high-stress environments that can take a toll on their mental and emotional well-being. By having someone to talk to and lean on during difficult times, they can reduce their risk of burnout and maintain their own mental health. Whether it’s a trusted friend, family member, or colleague, or a professional counsellor or therapist, having someone in their corner can provide guidance and support in managing the unique challenges of their profession.
Self-care is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. By taking care of themselves, care professionals can provide the care and support that their clients or patients need. Setting boundaries around work schedules, taking breaks when needed, engaging in regular exercise or other physical activities, and practicing mindfulness or meditation to reduce stress and promote relaxation are all ways that care professionals can prioritize self-care and maintain their well-being.
Recognizing the Signs of Burnout
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that can occur when care professionals are under a prolonged period of stress or pressure. Signs of burnout can include feelings of cynicism, detachment, or hopelessness, decreased job satisfaction, and physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches. Recognizing these signs is important so that care professionals can take action to prevent burnout before it becomes a more serious issue.
Taking Action to Prevent Burnout
If care professionals are experiencing burnout, it’s important to take action to prevent it from becoming a more serious issue. This could involve taking time off work to recharge, seeking out additional support or guidance from a therapist or counsellor, or finding new ways to approach their work that are more sustainable and fulfilling.
Recognizing the Value of Their Work
Finally, it’s important for care professionals to recognize the value of the work they do. Their contributions are essential to the well-being of others, and the impact they have on the lives of their clients or patients can be immeasurable. By taking care of themselves, seeking out support when needed, and recognizing the importance of their work, care professionals can prevent burnout and maintain their own well-being.
If you are a care professional struggling with burnout or in need of support, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Self-care and support are essential to being an effective and compassionate care professional, and there are resources available to help manage the unique challenges of the profession. By taking steps to support themselves, care professionals can continue to provide essential care and support to those in need.
All relationships have their ups and downs, but sometimes couples experience significant challenges that seem insurmountable. Miscommunication, disagreements, and other issues can cause couples to feel disconnected, frustrated, and unhappy. Imago Therapy is a specialized form of couples therapy that can help couples build stronger, healthier relationships and feel better about their partnership.
Understanding Imago Therapy
Imago Therapy is based on the idea that every individual brings their own unique set of experiences and perspectives to their relationships. Imago Therapy seeks to help couples understand and empathize with their partner’s experiences and perspectives, allowing them to build a deeper connection and resolve conflicts more effectively. Imago Therapy helps couples to communicate more effectively and connect with one another on a deeper level.
How Imago Therapy Works
Imago Therapy uses a structured approach to help couples identify and address underlying issues in their relationship. Couples will work with a trained Imago therapist to explore their relationship patterns, uncover past traumas, and develop new communication and conflict resolution skills. By addressing underlying issues and improving communication, couples can create a more loving and supportive partnership.
The Benefits of Imago Therapy
Imago Therapy can provide many benefits for couples, including:
Improved communication: Couples can learn to communicate more effectively and understand one another’s perspectives.
Increased empathy: Imago Therapy helps couples to empathize with one another’s experiences and build a deeper connection.
Better conflict resolution: Couples can learn new skills for resolving conflicts and working through disagreements in a productive and respectful manner.
Stronger partnership: By improving communication and resolving underlying issues, couples can build a stronger and healthier relationship.
Who Can Benefit from Imago Therapy
Imago Therapy can benefit any couple who is struggling with communication, conflict resolution, or other relationship issues. Whether couples are dealing with a specific issue or just feel disconnected from one another, Imago Therapy can provide the tools and support they need to build a stronger and healthier relationship. Imago Therapy can be especially effective for couples who are considering separation or divorce, as it can help them to work through their issues and develop a deeper connection.
Transform Your Relationship with Imago Therapy
If you are struggling in your relationship and are looking for a way to feel better, consider Imago Therapy. With its structured approach and emphasis on communication and empathy, Imago Therapy can help you and your partner build a stronger and healthier relationship. By addressing underlying issues and developing new skills, you can create a more loving and supportive partnership that will stand the test of time.
Gottman therapy, also known as the Gottman method, is a form of couples therapy that is widely recognized for its effectiveness in helping couples build and maintain healthy, long-lasting relationships. Developed by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, the therapy is based on over four decades of research and clinical experience with thousands of couples.
If you are looking for couples therapy in Nanaimo or on Vancouver Island, the Gottman method may be a good option for you. In this post, we will explore the basics of Gottman therapy and how it can help you and your partner.
What is the Gottman Method?
The Gottman method is a structured and goal-oriented approach to couples therapy. It is based on the idea that successful relationships are built on a foundation of love, trust, and mutual respect, and that the key to a successful relationship is the ability to communicate effectively and resolve conflicts in a healthy way.
In Gottman therapy, the therapist works with the couple to identify their strengths and weaknesses and to help them develop skills and strategies to improve their relationship. The therapy is based on a number of principles and techniques, including:
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. These four behaviors are toxic to relationships and can lead to the breakdown of communication and intimacy. In Gottman therapy, the therapist helps the couple to identify and avoid these behaviors and replace them with positive communication strategies.
The Magic Ratio The Magic Ratio refers to the ratio of positive interactions to negative interactions in a relationship. According to Gottman’s research, a ratio of 5:1 (five positive interactions for every negative interaction) is the minimum required for a relationship to be healthy and sustainable. In therapy, the therapist helps the couple to increase their positive interactions and decrease their negative interactions.
Love Maps Love Maps are the mental representations we have of our partner’s world. In Gottman therapy, the therapist helps the couple to build and strengthen their Love Maps by encouraging them to learn more about each other’s interests, goals, and values.
The Emotional Bank Account The Emotional Bank Account is the metaphorical account we all have in our relationships. Every time we do something positive for our partner, we make a deposit in the Emotional Bank Account, and every time we do something negative, we make a withdrawal. In Gottman therapy, the therapist helps the couple to make more deposits and fewer withdrawals.
Dreams Within Conflict In every conflict, there are underlying dreams and aspirations that are driving the disagreement. In Gottman therapy, the therapist helps the couple to identify these dreams and aspirations and work towards finding solutions that satisfy both partners.
How Does Gottman Therapy Work?
Gottman therapy typically involves a series of structured sessions with a trained therapist. The therapy may be conducted individually, as a couple, or in a group setting. The therapist will work with the couple to identify their goals for therapy and develop a plan to achieve those goals.
During therapy sessions, the therapist will use a range of techniques to help the couple communicate effectively, resolve conflicts, and build a stronger, more loving relationship. These techniques may include role-playing, exercises to increase emotional awareness and empathy, and homework assignments to practice new skills outside of therapy sessions.
One of the key features of Gottman therapy is the use of assessments and questionnaires to gather data on the couple’s relationship. These assessments may be used at the beginning of therapy to establish a baseline and identify areas of strength and weakness, and throughout therapy to track progress and adjust the treatment plan as needed.
Is Gottman Therapy Effective?
Numerous studies have shown that the Gottman method is highly effective in improving relationship satisfaction and reducing conflict in couples.
As a mother of three children, I know from experience how birthing a child into the world can be a traumatic event. I don’t think we talk about it enough.
My intention in sharing my story is to help you share yours as well. It’s important to talk about your experience and to feel heard, to release some of the emotions and not just store them inside of you.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I read lots of books and watched birth videos. I was supervised by a midwife and followed the recommended schedule of appointments with my partner to be as prepared as possible.
Although we thought we were informed and prepared, it turned out to be a traumatic event, and we were not at all prepared for the way things went.
We planned a home birth with a midwife
We had decided to do a home birth with a birthing pool. We thought that being at home would be the safest and easiest option. Looking back, I wish we had visited the obstetric department at the hospital and seen how convenient, luxurious, and private it was. I also wish I had known how messy birth was, and that we had known about the cleaning up that was required after birth — which you don’t have to do at the hospital!
My water broke at 8 pm while we were watching a movie. I was lying down on the couch and heard a “pop” sound. I stood up, and water started to leak down on my leg onto the floor. We got excited and wondered what the next step was — should we fill up the birthing pool? Call the midwife? We decided to go for a short walk to help the labour progress, and started to monitor the contractions. The contractions were far apart, and we tried to rest that night.
The next morning, we called the midwife, and she came mid-morning. She said I was in active labour, dilated at 3 cm, and would have a baby by dinner time. I now see that this was a mistake that set me up with unrealistic expectations, and from that point on, I kept on looking at the time.
An unplanned visit to the hospital
At midnight the midwife told me that I was fully dilated and told me to start pushing, even though I didn’t feel the urge to push. As I started to push, my cervix kept swelling over the baby’s head and she had to put her hand into my vagina to push the cervix back over the baby’s head. I pushed for three hours without progress.
At 3 am, without any warning, the midwife told us that we had to go to the hospital. After 31 hours of labour, this caught us by surprise. She hadn’t advised us to have a bag ready just in case. I guess we should have known, but . . . we didn’t.
Once we arrived at the hospital, the doctor tried forceps, which was quite traumatizing on its own to see how much force and yanking the doctor used to try to get the baby out. When that didn’t work, we were told that they were going to do an emergency C-section.
My partner had to leave the room while they gave me a spinal, which is a little different than an epidural, but has a similar purpose. The anesthesiologist wasn’t careful or professional and kept trying to puncture me while I was having contractions. At this point, I had been through over 30 hours of labour without any sleep or much rest and I was exhausted. They punctured me over a dozen times before succeeding.
After they finally injected me with a spinal, they rolled me toward the operating room for an emergency C-section. My partner was allowed to be back with me. I remember not being able to feel or move my legs anymore, and crying, telling my partner I was scared while he was holding my hand. Our baby boy was finally born, and we were taken to a recovery room.
Over the next few days at the hospital, I kept complaining about a stiff neck and sore head. I was being told it was muscle pain from birth and that everything would be okay once I recovered. I kept saying that I know my body, and that it didn’t feel like normal muscle pain and stiffness.
I was sent home three days later, and the symptoms didn’t improve. They kept getting worse. I had to wear sunglasses inside the house because light was affecting me. I had a massive headache and couldn’t hold my head upright. When I started asking my husband if he could hear “bird noises” in the house, he decided to take me back to the hospital, where I was told that I was suffering from a spinal fluid leak. They had to take blood from my arm and inject it into my spine in the hope of “sealing” the leak. It magically worked, and I was sent back home to recover again.
This was a difficult adjustment, recovering from this traumatic event while also recovering from the C-section, and learning to look after our first baby.
Understanding Traumatic Birth
I wish the story ended there, but our son suffered a kink in his neck from the forceps, and it took us a while to realize it. He was crying all the time in pain, and we couldn’t understand what was going on.
The first couple of years as a parent were difficult, and I wish that I had had more support to navigate the difficult emotional recovery. Looking back, I wish that someone had talked to me about it, to help me process the event. This is where a counsellor can help you, through talk therapy and somatic processing.
Addressing Traumatic Birth Experiences
With our second son, I managed to have a vaginal birth after the previous C-section, and was only in labour for eight hours. The third time around, at 42 years old, was fantastic! I felt empowered, cared for, supported, and managed to have a vaginal birth without any tears because of the excellent doctor and nurse that were with us.
My partner caught the baby, and our third son came out into the world peacefully without even crying. It was beautiful. We’re feeling blessed and grateful.
I hope that you never have to go through a difficult birth, but if you have, please reach out to me. I’d love to help you. To begin, please schedule a free session with me email@example.com
A decade ago, a friend recommended that I do the self-study daily lessons from the book called A Course in Miracles, also referred to as ACIM, or The Course, written in 1976 by Helen Schucman.
I’ve tried many times, but had such a difficult time with the Christian terminology that I couldn’t get through it. Then when I started my three-year Transpersonal Therapeutic Counselling program with Clearmind, it was part of the program. We were strongly encouraged to work through A Course in Miracles, as many other universal spiritual teachings also recommend it. In fact, it’s often referred to as a system of spiritual psychology.
What is A Course in Miracles and what has it taught me?
Since the book first came out in 1976 it has been translated into 27 languages and has been distributed around the world.
The premise is that the greatest “miracle” is the act of simply gaining a full “awareness of love’s presence” in a person’s life, designed to bring a state of happiness and peace to the student through the application of its principles.
“A Course in Miracles is a modern-day program for healing the Mind, removing all judgment, learning to trust the Higher Self/Holy Spirit/Intuition, and coming to consistent Peace of Mind.” —David Hoffmeister
The Course aims to help us remove the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence and to start listening to our inner teacher, the “Voice for God.”
The 1250-page, three-volume curriculum consists of a Text, Workbook for Students, and Manual for Teachers. It teaches that the way to universal love and peace—or remembering God—is by undoing guilt through forgiving others. The Course thus focuses on the healing of relationships and making them holy. A Course in Miracles is a universal spiritual teaching, not a religion.
The lessons do not require a lot of time, nor long practice periods, but they do require a willingness to question every value one holds, beliefs as to what the world is all about, and the willingness to see things differently—through the eyes of God.
The teachings of the Course are non-dualistic, based on the belief that there is a oneness which connects us all. It’s a unified field of awareness where everything is completely connected. Every star, galaxy, atom, and molecule are all connected, even though the ego believes in space, time, and distance, which makes it seem like we’re disconnected and separate.
The physical world we appear to be in is an illusion of our own making. It is a manifestation of our false belief in separation. There is no separation between God and ourselves or therefore, between any of us.
God is love, eternal and infinite, and all there is. We are God’s one creation. God only creates beings like Himself, and we remain as God created us, innocent and whole. God did not create pain, death, guilt or fear, so although they exist in our experience, they are not real.
The Course aims at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence. Rather than trying to change external circumstances, the Course teaches us to change our perceptions about the world.
As I worked through the course, I realized that I couldn’t recognize my own perfection. Feeling either “less than” or “better than” kept me in constant separation thinking. I spent so much energy either defending or attacking this idea.
We keep feeling unworthy because we keep denying the worthiness of our brothers and sisters. The judge feels judged, and the attacker always feels attacked. It’s an inside job.
Through the teachings, we seek not to change the world but to change our mind about ourselves.
The peace of God is reached through the practice of forgiveness. ACIM is teaching us about our perfect equality; that everyone and everything is perfectly equal. We are reflections of this Divine Oneness. We need to be freed from all these ego beliefs of inferiority and superiority, of having a false sense of pride, as well as shame and deep unworthiness. All of these concepts are part of a mask that’s worn to act as a cover over our true Christ Identity.
The study and learning of A Course in Miracles can be like climbing a ladder. Each rung represents a new realm of understanding where beautiful pearls of wisdom have more and more depth the higher one climbs. It’s a pathway of quantum forgiveness.
The psychology concepts ACIM talks about are projection, repression, and denial—the dynamics of the ego that keep us trapped. We remain locked in defense and attack whenever we are using these mechanisms. That’s what the Workbook is about, clearing away the ego debris from the mind, and learning how to trust in Spirit and let go of judgment, criticism, and condemnation.
Every lesson gives an opportunity for deeper learning. That’s why there are so many books that try to explain and deepen the teachings of ACIM! There are also study groups to help really embody the teachings.
For example, let’s work with this one for a moment: “I am never upset for the reason I think (Lesson 5).”
Whatever you’re upset about is an illusion. I am more interested in the truth than in the stories we make up. Come back into right mind and be miracle-minded. Notice that every time we’re upset, we have given meaning to something that is not true.
Practice saying, “I am never upset for the reason I think. I am willing to know the truth and light up my mind. To find the kingdom within and stop looking outside of myself.”
The only happiness there is comes from finding the kingdom within. Let’s align with truth.
Favourite lessons from A Course in Miracles
I see only the past (Lesson 7)
I am determined to see things differently (Lesson 21)
God is in everything I see (Lesson 29)
I am not the victim of the world I see (Lesson 31)
I could see peace instead of this (Lesson 34)
My holiness blesses the world (Lesson 37)
God goes with me everywhere I go (Lesson 41)
There is nothing to fear (Lesson 48)
I am the light of the world (Lesson 61)
Love holds no grievances (Lesson 68)
I am entitled to miracles (Lesson 77)
I am spirit (Lesson 97)
Forgiveness is the key to happiness (Lesson 121)
Love is the way I walk in gratitude (Lesson 195)
Today belongs to love. Let me not fear (Lesson 274)
All fear is past and only love is here (Lesson 293)
How does this land with you? Have you ever studied A Course in Miracles? Would you?
The book Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love, by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller, helped me gain a better understanding of what attachment theory is and how it works in intimate relationships.
There are 3 mains styles of attachment:
According to the authors, the basic principle is that secure people feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving.
Anxious people crave intimacy, though are often preoccupied and tend to worry about their partner’s ability to love them back.
Avoidant people equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimize closeness.
Each of these attachment styles differs in the way they view intimacy and togetherness, the way they deal with conflict, their attitudes toward sex, their ability to communicate needs and wishes, and their expectations they have of their partner and the relationship.
Genetics, as well as your early attachment experiences, can set the template for your relationships throughout your lifespan.
Adult attachment theory teaches us that our brain becomes wired to seek the support of our partner by ensuring the partner’s psychological and physical proximity.
If our partner fails to reassure us, we are programmed to continue our attempts to achieve closeness until the partner does. The theory also teaches us that most people are only as needy as their unmet needs.
When their emotional needs are met (the earlier the better), they usually turn their attention outward. This is sometimes referred to as the “dependency paradox.”
The more effectively dependent people are on one another, the more independent and daring they become. Numerous studies have shown that once we become attached to someone, the two people form one physiological unit.
Our partner regulates our blood pressure, our heart rate, our breathing, and the levels of hormones in our blood.
Dependency is a fact and not a choice or preference
When two people form an intimate relationship, they regulate each other’s psychological and emotional well-being. It turns out that the ability to step into the world on our own often stems from the knowledge that there is someone beside us whom we can count on.
A secure base is a prerequisite for a child’s ability to explore, develop and learn, and is as essential for the child’s survival as food and water.
Our brain assigns our partner the task of being our secure base, the person we use as an emotional anchor and a safe haven, the one we turn to in time of need.
One of the most important roles we play in our partners’ lives is providing a secure base, creating conditions that enable our partner to pursue their interests and explore the world in confidence.
How to know your partner’s attachment style — a cheat sheet
Communicates relationship issues well
Is able to compromise
Not afraid of commitment or dependency
Doesn’t view relationships as hard work
Closeness creates further closeness
Introduces friends and family early on
Naturally expresses feelings for you
Doesn’t play games
Reliable and consistent
Makes decisions with you
Has a flexible view of relationship
Wants a lot of closeness in the relationship
Expresses insecurities, worries about rejection
Unhappy when not in a relationship
Plays games to keep attention and interest
Has difficulty explaining what is bothering him/her; expects you to guess
Has a hard time not making things about him/her in the relationship
Lets you set the tone of the relationship
Is preoccupied with the relationship
Fears that small acts will ruin the relationship, believes she/he must work hard to keep the partner’s interest
Suspicious that you may be unfaithful
Sends mixed signals
Values his/her independence
Devalues you or previous partner
Uses distancing strategies
Emphasizes boundaries in the relationship
Has an unrealistically romantic view of how a relationship should be
Fears being taken advantage of by partner
Uses uncompromising rules and has a rigid view of the relationship
Doesn’t make intentions clear
Has difficulty talking about what is going on between you
The secure attachment style person tends to be reliable, consistent, and trustworthy. They are programmed to expect their partners to be loving and responsive, without worrying much about losing their partner’s love. They feel comfortable with intimacy and closeness and have an uncanny ability to communicate their needs and respond to their partner’s needs.
An anxious attachment style person is more vigilant, watching for changes in others’ emotional expressions, and has a high degree of sensitivity to cues.
An anxious person tends to jump to conclusions quickly, and when they do, they tend to misinterpret people’s emotional states. They need to wait a little longer before reacting and jumping to conclusions.
An avoidant attachment style person is like a lonesome traveler on the journey of life and relationships. They can be quick to think negatively about their partners, often seeing their partner as needy and overly dependent.
Avoidant people tend to have a dismissive attitude toward connectedness. The problem is that along with a self-reliant attitude, they have also trained themselves not to care about the person closest to them, and often blame their unhappiness on their partner.
They believe it’s not their job to take care of somebody else’s well-being, and often use sex to distance themselves from their partner.
The Anxious-Avoidant relationship
There is a dangerous trap — also referred to as a dance — that relationships can fall into. It’s an anxious-avoidant relationship, where one partner is anxious, and the other is avoidant. In this kind of relationship, the partners find it hard to move toward more security because they are trapped in a cycle of exacerbating each other’s insecurities.
Avoidants often inflate their self-esteem and sense of independence in comparison to someone else. And if you are anxious, you are programmed to feel “less than” when your attachment system gets activated.
The anxious partner is usually the one who must make concessions and accept the rules imposed by the avoidant partner.
Other patterns we see in these anxious/avoidant cycles is a high degree of secrecy and blaming the other person for being jealous and needy, while finding ways to spend less time together.
If you’re an anxious person with an avoidant partner, you may feel as if you’re constantly being rejected and rebuffed. After a while you may start blaming yourself, and you might feel unattractive or inadequate.
When the two of you succeed in building a secure relationship, everyone wins. If you are anxious, you get the closeness you crave, and if you are avoidant, you will enjoy the independence you need.
Here are five secure principles for resolving conflict
Show basic concern for the other person’s well-being
Maintain focus on the problem at hand
Refrain from generalizing the conflict
Be willing to engage
Effectively communicate feeling and needs
Whatever attachment style you developed as a child, if it’s causing you difficulties in relationships, please know that you can change for the better over time, particularly with counselling.
Schedule a free session with me to see whether I can help.