Intimate Relationships -- Vehicles for Healing
Kevin Cooper, MFT
Love is challenging and maintaining love in our intimate relationships is especially difficult. Our culture complicates the process by romanticizing intimate relationships with concepts like "soul mates", implying that if we just find the right mate we can avoid the struggles of partnership. The truth is, relationships do not spare us from the pains of life. They don't protect us against loneliness, loss, disappointment, failure or fear. What many couples do not realize, however, is that within the painful experiences of their relationships are opportunities for personal growth that can deepen and strengthen their intimacy.
Anyone who has stayed in their relationship beyond the blissful "infatuation stage" knows that conflicts inevitably arise. Dealing with these conflicts can trigger defensive responses. While painful in the moment, these conflicts can be useful in providing insights into our relational patterns. The pain gets our attention, how we respond is what makes the difference between staying stuck in self defeating cycles or learning new, more fulfilling ways to relate to our partners. If we choose to deny, avoid or self-medicate in response to our relational conflicts we only perpetuate our suffering. Only by accepting that relational pain is inevitable, and allowing it to emotionally open us up, can we generate the insights which promote our healing. Read more...
A Day in Family Court
Milton Woolley, MFT
Recently I attended a morning session in Sonoma County Superior Court and had the opportunity to observe cases dealing with family law. I felt very sad watching the couples who were there to settle various contested matters involved in their separations and divorces. Most of the cases I saw dealt with child custody issues. I wondered what caused these people, who at one time were in love with each other, to be there, sadly and angrily, ending marriages or struggling with the question of who has the kids when and arguing about who is the best parent. I reflected on how important it is for marriage counselors, like me, to do all we can to help individuals in relationships to understand each other so that their children do not become extensions of the conflict and difficult feelings exchanged between unhappy partners when they chose to part. Sometimes marriages need to end for a variety of reasons but more importantly, I believe that greater understanding by parents can relieve some of the immense pressure the un-examined conflict inflicts on children. My heart ached for those children who would bear the wounds of being caught in the middle of the conflict between their mothers and fathers. The sadness stayed with me for several days. Read more...
"The Guest House", a poem by Rumi
Shoshona Pascoe, MFT
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Book Review: "Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life"
Gudrun Zomerland, MFT
Even though I had heard about non-violent communication (NVC) for a long time, it was only recently that I actually picked up Dr. Marshall Rosenberg's book. I thought I was fairly knowledgeable about clear communication but he showed me a whole new world. Besides its obvious value for anybody in relationships (that's all of us, whether in a primary relationship or not), while I was reading I kept thinking about the particular challenges codependents face when communicating.
As codependents we often have difficulty identifying feelings and, even if we can, knowing the needs behind our feelings. And, we have learned to cope with interpersonal stress by excessively focusing on the people around us. Non-violent communication addresses all these areas: 1. observe what's happening (outside of ourselves), 2. notice our feelings (inside of ourselves), 3. discover the need behind the feelings (inside), and 4. make a request (inside to outside). Dr. Rosenberg explains each of these areas in depth in several separate chapters. Read more...
Healing and Recovery in a Divorce Support Group: Part Two
Shonnie Brown, MFT
In Part One of this article I outlined the major themes we deal with in a divorce support group through the use of typical case examples. In this article I will focus more on these issues as well as on the resistance and the eventual healing process of group members.
We must keep in mind that in the case of a unilateral divorce, one partner's decision to leave is often a traumatic life event for the other. The leaver may have thought about this for years but it often feels to the leavee like the earth below has crumbled to pieces. When a partner just walks out with no warning, the other may be left with a sense of complete despair and hopelessness, without structure or vision for the future. Read more...
Chinn Street Groups:
Separation/Divorce/Transition Group for Women: ongoing weekly support group for women in any stage of separation from a long term relationship. Facilitated by Shonnie
Brown, M.A., MFT
Co-Parent Empowerment Group: six week class focusing on shared parenting issues: managing and diffusing anger, de-escalation of conflict and effective communication skills. Facilitated by Shonnie
Brown, M.A., MFT
Ongoing Men's Support Group: open to men interested in working on recurrent relationship issues including anger, addiction, communication and parenting. Meets Tuesdays from 6-7:30 PM. Facilitated by Kevin Cooper, MFT
Recovery Support Group for Women: for women who are currently active members of a 12-Step fellowship and who want additional support in dealing with the many issues that can emerge when recovering from addictive patterns in life. Ongoing, Monday evenings 6-7:30PM. Facilitated by Gudrun Zomerland, MFT
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