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Individual and Couples Counselling in Calgary

  • Writer's pictureRovena Magidin

Navigating Relationship Conflicts: A Guide to Couples Counseling in Calgary.


couple in marital counselling

Conflicts are tough in relationships. It hurts. Most of us never had good role models growing up that would help us prepare for healthy conflict resolution. We want to be heard, we want to be loved, we want to love, but even with all the best intentions, we end up hurt and hurting our partners. It spirals quickly. Resentment and defensiveness grows more and more. We feel angry and frustrated, or shut down and hopeless, or all of the above. By the time couples reach out for support, it's been years of being stuck in what feels like the same fight, over and over again.


If you're considering couples therapy, it might be helpful to understand what the process entails.


I'll share a "professional" view and my own take on it.


Couple's Therapy Treatment Plan for Frequent Conflict:

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What do we do in Couples Counselling


1. Understanding Each Other:

Assessment: We begin by understanding each partner's perspective, history, and expectations.


We don't just start with the problems, we start with talking about what works well, we sprinkle a little bit of appreciation, we notice the strengths of each partner and the relationship. The question I often ask is "Tell me something you love, like or appreciate about your partner".


We then explore the nature, triggers, and patterns of conflicts within the relationship. We need to understand the patterns, so we can recognize them quickly and have a chance to do something differently.


2. Setting Goals:

Establishing Treatment Goals: Together, we collaboratively set clear and achievable goals, focusing on improving communication, learning conflict resolution skills and creating a positive emotional connection.


That's professional language. In reality - I want to understand what is it that you really want to create in your relationship, what is missing, what are you longing for. We want to be loved, seen, appreciated, valued. We want to be heard. We want ease, we want harmony. We want deep connection and intimacy.


But that's not what we say. We say - if only my husband would change, or if only my wife would stop being to critical. That's not a goal. At least not a goal you have any control over, or can do anything about. This type of goals positions you in a very powerless place. What can I change? What do I want to create? What can I take responsibly for? Now we are talking, now I can support you in creating a lasting change in your relationship.


3. Communication Skills:

Building Communication Skills: Learn and practice effective communication techniques, such as active listening and assertiveness, to navigate disagreements constructively.


We practice a lot - in sessions, and then at home, as homework, creating a safe space for everyone to share and to be heard. We learn how to communicate in a way that makes it easy for your partner to hear you and not get defensive. To ask questions that create deeper connection rather than being seen as annoyance. To drop into our hearts and share from there.


4. Conflict Resolution:

Conflict Resolution Strategies: Develop problem-solving skills to address specific conflicts, guiding you through ways to navigate disagreements.


We learn the art of compromise, we learn how to handle our differences, and not loose ourselves in the relationship. We learn how to repair after a fight, quickly and thoroughly. We learn how to heal past hurts. We talk about emotional regulation - individual and as a couple. We do some really deep work here, to make sure you've got the tools moving forward.


5. Building Empathy and Strengthening Connection::

Fostering Empathy: We work on understanding each other's perspectives, exploring triggers, and fostering empathy to reduce misunderstandings.


Strengthening Emotional Connection: Engage in activities to enhance the emotional connection, fostering expressions of affection, appreciation, and support.


Heart to heart connection. Emotional connection. Safety and vulnerability. Empathy and compassion. Gentleness and Kindness. It's all there, but we built so many walls, we don't know to connect like this again. We are in self protection mode. It felt too vulnerable. When we create space for deep emotional connection like this, couples start to feel like they are falling in love again.


6. Relational Toolkit:

Developing a Relational Toolkit: Collaboratively create a set of effective communication and conflict resolution strategies to use independently.


You get to develop tools that will work for you in all of your relationships. You learn how to be on each other side, even when facing challenges and disagreements; how to turn problems into projects, how to turn things around when you feel disconnected, and how to repair after a fight.


We are all human, we are going to trigger each other. This work is not about being "perfect", it's about being real, and it's about having the tools and certainty, that you can talk about anything, and you can figure it out, no matter what. That you are a team, and you've got each other's back.


7. Regular Check-Ins:

Regular Monitoring: Schedule regular check-ins to monitor progress, discuss challenges, and make adjustments to the treatment plan as needed.


We often start Couples Counselling with weekly or by-weekly sessions to get the momentum going. After a while you don't need more sessions, and you dont need more information, you need more time to practice.


We then schedule monthly sessions and at some point every 6-8 weeks check-ins to make sure that you get the support you need.


8. Termination and Relapse Prevention:


Develop a plan for the gradual termination of therapy, ensuring the couple feels equipped to navigate conflicts independently.

Collaborate on a relapse prevention strategy, providing tools to address conflicts proactively.


We definitely need a plan. Couples often say "we tried everything, but we see a change for a week or two, maybe a month, and then things go back to how they were". And that's often true. If your goal is for your partner to change, they might give it a try, and be on their best behaviour for a while, but that's not how we create lasting change.

We need a plan. We need to give it time. And you need to be supported, you need to know exactly what you are doing and why. You need to learn how to set each other up for success. And you need to commit to doing your part. After all, the only person you can change is you.


Conclusion.


How did this sound to you? That's one way of looking at the goals of couples counselling, and I'll be sharing more in the future.


If this resonates and you want to explore it for yourself, I'd love to support you. I offer Marriage Counselling or Couples Counselling in Calgary and online. Please book your free consultation here so I can answer your questions. I love this work, I find it incredibly powerful, and I'd love to be of service.






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