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Recently, researchers Nobert Schwartz and Spike W.S. Lee published a study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology that challenges some of our romantic myths about love, relationships, and marriage. Schwartz and Lee found in two separate experiments that how couples frame their relationship in terms of metaphor,  will influence their ability to work through conflicts as well as their judgments about the quality of their relationships.

One view, popular in our culture (especially in romantic movies) views partners as “two halves of a whole”  or “made for each other”.  In other words, the “unity” idea or the belief that people in love are destined to be together and that love should be conflict free.  The other view, also popular in our culture is that “love is a journey with ups and downs”.  Lee and Schwartz’ work found that couples who hold the belief that love is a journey with challenges are more likely to be happy with their relationships and see conflict as something that is positive and can be worked through.

Harville Hendrix, creator of Imago Relationship Therapy has spent decades teaching couples that “conflict is your relationship trying to grow.”  This new research supports the idea in Imago that conflict is natural and how we frame our ideas about love and conflict are key. Relationships are powerful opportunities to grow and heal, but most growth in life does not occur without getting out of our comfort zones.  And, the very differences that can be so frustrating in romantic relationships come from our powerful unconscious attraction to a partner that will motivate growth.  To learn more about Imago Relationship Therapy visit www.gettingtheloveyouwant.com.

Contact me at Suzanne@ca4wellbeing.com or call me at 706-425-8900 if you are interested in a exploring your relationship patterns and learning new skills individually or as a couple. Enjoy the journey!

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We have a new Career counselor in Athens! We at Counseling  Associates for Well- Being are  very happy to welcome our newest associate this week. Marian Higgins, PhD., LPC  is joining us. She is an experienced Career Counselor who specializes in helping people with all things work related. This includes making choices about career paths, dealing with work stress, workplace diversity issues, work or career transitions, and  workplace relationship challenges. Dr. Higgins is an experienced speaker and educator as well. She presents on topics related to leadership, inclusion, and strategies for  college success . Check here for information about her speaking:  http://www.marianhiggins.com/#!speaking/cv53

She can help if you are feeling stuck in your career and looking for direction. If you are struggling with a difficult job change, having problems with co-worker relationships, or managing things related to your work-life balance, consider seeing Marian.  These are all great reasons to see a great career counselor. She has a great deal of experience with helping young adults with navigating educational choices as well. We are thrilled to have her join us!

https://ca4wellbeing.com/about/marian-higgins/

Please call her for all your work and career related needs at 706-425-8900

Marian Higgins

Marian Higgins, PhD., LPC, Career counselor

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Life based on gratitude, optimism and meaning is presented in this video: http://www.learning2connect.com/node/2074

Under dire circumstances, Alice Herz Sommer kept her focus “where it is good”, knowing that both “bad and good” are simultaneously on-going, and yet consciously choosing to keep her focus toward the good; in that place, everything is a present. And when you see and hear her laugh, you know this is genuine.

From birth she was optimistic and she wanted to have fun ; almost like she’s received the optimist gene at birth and passed it on to her son as well!!

Her love of music seems to be an intrisic part of her life and her love for life. At the time of her life when she and her son were in concentration camps, music, in theses circumstances, was not an entertainment;  “music was a much bigger value: it gave people moral support… The music gave us undescribable beauty”, may be satisfying the need for Inspiration or Meaning, like Viktor Frankl proposes in his book “Man’s Search For Meaning”.

I so enjoy her simple determination and clarity about her focus in life. It appears that she has practiced theses for ever, and I cannot help but believe this comes from the way she was raised, from parents who mirrored her with joy. I’d love to get your feedback about how this touches you. And contact me if you feel inspired and want to explore this further, at: aline@ca4wellbeing.com, or 706 425 8900, ext 705.

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Here, in an interesting article, Keith Molyneaux helps us look at relationships from a different perspective: “Why Men Withdraw Emotionally”, and offers insights about men’s world. It may not apply to everyone, yet it certainly opens space to consider our own reactions: when we withdraw and why -man or woman-, whether it comes from protection and/or frustration, confusion or overwhelming feeling. It also brings more clarity about existing double standards and levels of expectations men have to face. Keith Molyneaux looks into the challenge of 2 partners needing nurturing, empathy, support and recognition at the same time, with one of the two having more experience, in this area, than the other.

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/02/why-men-withdraw-emotionally/

Resonating with this article? Open to explore each other’s world in a safe environment? Feel free to contact Aline Robolin, LPC at 706 425 8900, ext 705, or Aline@ca4wellbeing.com.

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www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2013/08/22/study-to-the-human-brain-me-is-we/

We are wired toward connection! This is an exciting time in terms of the emerging knowledge regarding our minds and our behavior in relationships.  I highly recommend you read the article linked above.  Interestingly, recent MRI studies show that participants react to a threat against a loved one with the same intensity as they would a threat to themselves.  Daniel Siegel, who is a pioneer in the field of Interpersonal Neurobiology, has written and spoken prolifically for years describing how our minds develop through interactions with others and that processes to integrate the mind heal relationships (and the reverse is true as well).  These MRI studies confirm what therapists have known for years about the importance of empathy in our relationships.  Also, this type of research is confirming what we know about couples: partners become emotionally attuned to each other and react to the other’s emotions and moods.

The really good news is that when we learn to have attuned communication with others, we actually integrate and improve the wiring in our brains.  Attuned communication is defined by Siegel as resonating with another’s inner world.  This connects with John Gottman’s research with couples also that happy spouses know each other’s inner worlds.  Siegel says we cannot just focus on the thoughts and feelings, but we have to be mindful of the energy in our exchanges with others.  Mindfulness practices and meditation can improve our ability to be present in relationships as well as improve our well-being.

If you are interested in improving your understanding of your own behavior in relationships and learning tools to enhance them, I am a Certified Imago Relationship Therapist and Certified Hatha Yoga Instructor with expertise in helping individuals and couples improve their communication and lessen their reactivity as well as change patterns that are painful.  Please call 706-425-8900 or email Suzanne@ca4wellbeing.com with questions or to schedule a session.

 

This talk by Dr Brene Brown “Shame and Empathy” has been, for me, invigorating, clarifying and thought provoking. I resonate with her statement about connection being the essence of human experience, as it gives meaning to our experience. She presents a concept about connection, where empathy and shame are at the opposite ends of the spectrum, and vulnerability/authenticity is the cursor between the 2: the more vulnerable/open you are, the closer you are to empathy; and the less you are vulnerable, the closer you are to shame -“I cannot let you see these pieces of me, because I fear that will create disconnection “-.  We armor ourself for self-protection from suffering, and as we live in a culture of fear about not fitting in, it does not leave space for vulnerability. Yet vulnerability and authenticity are the path to what we are longing for: love, belonging, trust, intimacy joy, creativity and innovation, as well as empathy. How do we create compassionate/safe space to share and listen to our stories? How do we create a place for connection?

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I am leading several groups of NonViolent Communication, also called Compassionate Communication (more information at CNVC.org). If you resonate with this subject and are longing to be heard and to listen to others in a safe environment, you can contact Aline Robolin, LPC at 706 425 8900, ext 705, or Aline@ca4wellbeing.com.

I invite you to watch this video  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQiFfA7KfF0 and share your feedback if you desire.

 

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I am not a big believer in New Year’s Resolutions. I find them to be similar to diets in the way they create a setup of unrealistically harsh expectations for one’s self that are bound to fail. However, there is one resolution I would suggest and celebrate for anyone to make, and this resolution improves outlook and mood, health, relationships and all other aspects of life. This resolution would be a commitment in the year 2014 to improve one’s relationship with self. The relationship we have with ourselves is the longest and most important as it forms the basis for how we see the world and make choices for our behavior.

How does one improve that relationship? One way we improve it is by becoming aware of and improving our self-talk.  Many of us have developed a strong inner drill sergeant that seeks to motivate us to “be better” and “do better”.  I would argue that we get a lot further with compassion for self and treating ourselves as we would a dear friend.  Compassion for self does not mean denial or dishonesty, but looking at situations in our lives with the understanding we are human and deserve unconditional emotional support first and foremost.  With compassion and honesty with self, we are more likely to make choices such as better self-care or reaching out for help when it is needed-and we all need help as human beings.

I would suggest mindfully starting with this intention each day.  Take a few quiet minutes to meditate on the intention to be compassionate toward one’s self on a daily basis.  This alone could create quite a lasting change this year.  Contact me at suzanne@ca4wellbeing.com if you would like to work on a new approach to making changes and dealing with challenges. Happy New Year!

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I am excited to announce that I have completed my 200 hour training as a Certified Hatha Yoga instructor. I am passionate about combining yoga skills and techniques (no mat or flexibility required) with traditional talk therapy to enhance healing from grief, trauma, anxiety, and depression. In addition to the scientifically verified benefits for anxiety and depression, yoga and mindfulness also increase our ability to be present in relationships and in our daily lives, increasing our quality of life. Call me at 706-425-8900 or email me at Suzanne@ca4wellbeing.com to schedule an individual or group session today.

I quite often use Nonviolent Communication in my work as a counselor as it has been for me a way to become more compassionate with myself and others. I would like to share this link with you: http://www.nonviolentcommunication.com/freeresources/article_archive/heartofnvc_mrosenberg  It introduces the concepts of this approach, which focuses on staying connected instead of expecting a specific outcome.

I have been studying NVC / compassionate communication for more than 10 years, and I keep opening doors in myself as well as being able to listen to others in a way that they can “be seen asbeautiful”. There is a deep harmonious connection that develops through this approach as we grow more aware of our feelings and needs and take responsibility for them. I am not feeling angry because “you” (whatever you did or did not do)… any more; I feel angry because of that need for connection that is so essential and precious to me, and that has not been addressed lately in our relationship.

I enjoy sharing this approach as it does create more space and more possibilities in our lives. If you are interested in learning more about it, feel free to contact me at 706 425 8900 ext 705, or at Aline@ca4wellbeing.com.

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Adding yoga as a complement to therapy for depression, anxiety, grief, and trauma can prove more powerful than talk therapy alone.  “Ancient yogic practices are now evidence-based strategies for mood management”, writes Amy Weintraub, author of “Yoga Skills for Therapists”. One does not have to be flexible or able and willing to get on a mat and practice the physical poses called “asana”.  Powerful breathing practices called “pranayama” as well as guided meditation and other skills are adequate for gaining the benefits of calming the nervous system and elevating or calming the mood.

I have observed these benefits as a professional, but I also know the research rings true for me personally.  Yoga was instrumental in my own healing after suddenly losing a spouse 11 years ago. Over a decade later, yoga remains an integral part of my self-care. Currently, I am completing a 200 hour yoga teacher training to continue bringing these powerful practices to my clients.  I am especially excited to announce my “Healing From Loss through Mind/Body Awareness” therapy group. This group will utilize yoga skills as well as group processing to heal from painful losses. I have specialized for many years in helping those who are grieving (in groups and individually) and am thrilled to offer this special opportunity.  Please contact me at 706-425-8900 or email me at Suzanne@ca4wellbeing to learn more.

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