Here is a link to an article on a Marriage sight where I am an expert contributor, about how to prepare for relationship therapy or couples' counselling sessions to get the most out of it.
Have you ever searched for a relationship expert to help you with a significant relationship? What makes a person an expert on relationships? What does the research say makes a healthy and satisfying relationship?
There are many people advertising themselves as Experts in many categories of skill and knowledge. Relationship experts are all over the internet providing advice to people who are heavily invested in making a particular relationship work, or finding and sustaining a healthy relationship. But did you know many of these so-called Experts do not know much about what makes a good relationship? Many of them are actually re-quoting things they read in pop psychology books, or other sources online. Many of these experts are better at marketing themselves as experts then developing and sharing any expertise. When you go to a relationship expert for advice, ask yourself, or maybe even them, from what pool of knowledge do they draw their expertise?
Recently I presented at a conference on Healthy Relationships. The research I reviewed for this presentation was broad and not easy to interpret. Vague categories emerged like "Quality Time" and "Communication". We all know that a good relationship requires enjoying the other person's company, trust and feeling understood. What is not as easily unpacked is how to create these factors.
Psychotherapists trained in Marraige and Family Counselling should have knowledge of the skills that build a healthy relationship. For example, when I work with clients in relationships, I teach them different ways to talk to each other to reduce defensiveness and allow for expressions of empathy, and active listening.
Trust and fulfillment in relationships, however, is not just skill based. Its often emotional and neuro-biologically influenced. What we learn in early childhood can wire our brains to react certain ways in significant adult relationships. Any trauma or unhealthy early lessons about love, emotion and trust will often carry itself into adult relationships. That is where an Expert needs to understand psychological theory and research as well as be adept at helping people see patterns, as well as make and sustain changes.
Ultimately, you are your own expert on your own relationship. The way you feel, whether directly influenced by the actions of another person towards you, or triggered by early learning - is going to determine the quality of the relationship. The way you identify, understand and manage your own emotions is also going to have a huge impact on not only the relationship itself, but how you negotiate your way through it, and what kind of relationships you value or are attracted to. This is all "work" that can be done with an "Expert" in human change. So if you are seeking change in the area of relationships, make sure that the person you go to for help has a thorough knowledge and background in working with emotions, early learning and change itself.
Transgender Support in Toronto
In gender identity, there is a huge range of experience, expression and levels of acceptance. Often, however, mental well being depends on the ability to move in a meaningful way towards what is sometimes called Gender Confirmation. The person born in a body they feel is gender in-congruent requires a network of supportive friends, families and/or professionals to help them deal with the developmental experiences and cope with any changes to their lives they plan to make. Most people these days find that others are much more supportive then they imagined, as times are, however slowly, changing. Understanding what it means to be Transgender - that it is not a choice for example, is a more common response then it was in recent history, when it was often treated as a sexual perversion. Still, many transgender people have learned to gauge the feelings of everyone around them with regards to who they are and thus often become quite adept at getting and quite dependent on external validation. For this reason, it is helpful and important to seek out a supportive therapist who can be both validating and at the same time strengthening a person to seek their own validation rather then dependence on the therapist. This can be complicated by the fact that a person often needs a long history with a therapist to gain required letters of support for gender confirmation surgery. A Transgender Transition therapist should be empowering, supportive and accepting, while supporting life enhancing goals, regardless of where a person is on their Gender Journey. There are supports and resources available in Toronto, and an experienced therapist in this area can help to set up a person with a helpful network. Inquiries are welcome.
A recent study indicated that the majority of kids in the Toronto District School Board are experiencing stress. (http://www.680news.com/2013/02/12/majority-of-kids-stressed-out-tdsb-report-says/).
When we think of childhood, we think of happiness, care free living, laughter and creativity, and PLAY, not stress. However, children's lives are moving at a rapid pace and they are feeling pressure to keep up. Parents, wanting to do the best for their children, and experiencing the competition, are pushing their children to learn earlier and to achieve more. Homework loads are increasing and sometimes parents are doing more than just "helping" kids get better marks. Tutoring centres are popping up on every corner. Early learning centres emphasize early literacy. Toddlers are being taught to read with flash cards and proud parents beam when their efforts succeed in expediting their children's literacy skills in kinder-garden.
Is there really an advantage to all the achievement emphasis we are placing on our children? Can parents and school sustain it? What is the experience of children being pushed to achieve at an early age? Despite parental feelings, the research in Psychology suggests that all this hurrying and busying of children's lives not only leads to feelings of being stressed and unhappy, it does NOT lead to later achievement. In fact, pushing and rewarding children to achieve academic milestones earlier than they are ready can lead to lack of motivation later in school life. Developmental research suggests that children be allowed to seek out what interests them and to learn by play for the first few years of life, to learn from experience. This is particularly true for boys, who need more hands on learning. In fact, the brain is wired to seek out appropriate play and experience in order to maximize its own growth in the early years. Motivational research suggests that rewarding children for something that they should be naturally enthusiastic about actually takes away from their intrinsic motivation in the long run. In other words, pushing and praising kids to achieve earlier and to achieve more only hurts them down the road. In terms of stress, when a person feels that the demands being placed on exceed their ability to meet the demands, they are going to have a physiological and psychological stress response.
So what do we do to manage children's experience of stress? We can teach anxiety coping skills in therapy, or even in the classroom. Or, more radically, we could consider lightening the load, letting go of the pressure to compete, and allowing them to PLAY. Creativity grows from the freedom to play and explore. When, however, anxiety has become severe, it is important to seek out Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help teach a child to manage their stress response. Please feel free to contact me to inquire about CBT Groups for kids Grade 3-5 that teach stress management and coping skills.
Here is a link to an article I wrote that can help others understand someone with Body Image problems or Anorexia or other Obsessions with the Body. Click the title or the link.
Link to an article I published on body image and how we develop a sense of self and define it.
Link to an article I published on how thinking impacts the relationship between body image and exercise.
This is a link to an article I published on a therapy site about how people with Body Image concerns struggle with boundaries with self and in relationships.
Follow the link above to read a personal article I wrote about body image and pregnancy, published in a therapy site.
Click the title to go to the therapy site where the article was originally published.
Psychotherapist in Toronto & Psychotherapy Blogger
Shirley Katz, Ph.D.
A high school "pushout" with a Ph.D., I have worked in many fields, in many roles, and walked in many shoes. Currently I am in private practice in Psychotherapy and working in Film and Television as well as Fitness, as a Zumba Instructor.