by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghFebruary 28, 2021 anger, anger management, anger management counseling0 comments
Do you remember the last time you felt angry? Perhaps you were peeved that your kid left a sliver of milk in the jug and didn’t add it to the grocery list. Maybe a truck cut you off at the freeway entrance, and you muttered obscenities. Or maybe it’s hard to look back at the last time, because you punched a hole in the wall.
We All Get Angry
Though sometimes unpleasant, anger comprises a natural part of the human emotional experience. However, chronic and intense anger may take a toll on your body, mind, and relationships. Depending on the seriousness, this could range from a stress headache to a cardiac event.
Anger tends to surface in our relationships where we spend the most time. You may lash out at loved ones and feel regret. If this becomes a pattern, it can wound long-term relationships.
Unchecked anger that becomes physical aggression may evoke larger social, legal, and even criminal consequences.
If you find yourself struggling with this emotion, remember that eliminating anger from life is not an option. But you can learn to reduce persistent, intense anger.
Abundant Anger Management
Square one: anger management resources are widely available in this day and age. Think you don’t have the time or money? Positive effects have been noted from just a handful of interventions.
Common techniques include mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and non-violent communication. Some help diffuse intense feelings when they arise. Others equip you to work around or through situations that anger you.
Most interventions teach life skills that are simply good to have. Keep reading to learn what you have to gain.
Mindfulness: the Power of the Present
Mindfulness and relaxation techniques teach calm observation, which can help you self-soothe when tense. This can be useful whether you’re tolerating an annoying coworker or coaching yourself through airplane turbulence.
On top of anger reduction, mindfulness enhances enjoyment of day to day life. When you feel anchored in the present, it opens the door to deeper connection with yourself and others.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: Flip Your Perspective
Cognitive reframing offers another multi-tool for life. To reframe, take a step back and examine your reaction to situations that provoke strong emotion.
For example, what thoughts fill your mind when you feel angry at your spouse for not emptying the dishwasher? “They don’t value my time. I do all the chores…” What if your spouse didn’t empty the dishwasher, because they were busy cooking dinner for you? Do you feel different about that full dishwasher now?
It’s natural to see that reframing could serve many emotions and circumstances, not just anger. You may find yourself reframing all sorts of assumptions that once weighed you down.
Non-Violent Communication: Get to the Root
Remember that anger may be telling you an important message about your needs. The hidden need might be personal (“I need more time to recharge”), but it could also draw you to a larger cause. Anger-fueled protests that call for justice are a classic example.
Whatever the message, non-violent communication teaches you to focus on the need beneath the emotion. Suddenly, you may find anger isn’t a roadblock anymore. Instead of choosing aggression and rumination, you energetically solve problems.
Take the First Step
With these benefits in mind, can you visualize yourself getting a handle on your anger?
Professional counseling can make a huge difference in the speed and health of your recovery. Reach out to find a therapist who’s a good fit. Get the support you need on the journey to freedom from chronic anger. If not now, when?
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghFebruary 12, 2021 healthy relationships, marriage counseling, marriage counseling monroeville, marriage counseling near me, marriage counseling pittsburgh, marriage counseling south hills, marriage counseling wexford0 comments
Many predict that divorce will be at an all-time high during the time of COVID-19 quarantine.
One relationship therapist emailed a survey to over 700 clients and found that thirty-one percent of respondents claimed the quarantine had hurt their relationship. With record amounts of time spent together in close quarters, it may feel like there’s no escape for a married couple, especially with none of the usual “me time” activities like gyms, spas, and dinners with friends.
For that reason, marriage counseling is more important than ever. Having a dedicated safe space to process issues, especially during a stressful situation like an ongoing pandemic, can help strengthen the bonds of a couple immensely. Below are just a few of the many reasons couples may want to seek marriage counseling.
1. Support Navigating Shared Relationships
A married couple has many important relationships outside of their marriage itself. The dynamics of these relationships can also affect a marriage. Couples may need outside advice on how to properly set boundaries and interact with children, parents, in-laws, friends, and members of blended families. A third-party who is impartial can be especially helpful in these scenarios because problems often arise when both members of a couple have a different relationship with one of these outside people.
2. Help with Sexual Issues
Many times, underlying relationship issues play out in the bedroom. Sexual issues can come up again and again, shaping a large part of a couple’s intimacy issues. Luckily, studies show that improvement is largely possible, especially when a sex therapist gives both partners coping strategies to employ when they encounter sexual difficulties. A study that followed 140 couples over the course of one to six years of sex therapy found that the long-term outcome for those seeking sex therapy was excellent, and the results carried over into the couples’ attitudes about their relationship in general.
3. Gaining an Impartial Ear
When weathering marital troubles, many people seek advice from friends and family who bring their own biases to the table. For example, someone’s mother is likely to want to see them as innocent and their partner as the villain. Marriage counselors don’t have previous associations with either party. They are more likely to hear both partners’ concerns fairly.
4. Rebuilding Trust After Infidelity
Studies show that between 20 and 40 percent of married people end up seeking an extramarital affair. These statistics are especially troubling when 42 percent of divorces cite infidelity as one of the causes. That said, when the right steps are taken, infidelity does not have to end in divorce, and a couple can ultimately rebuild broken trust and become even stronger.
According to Psychology Today, part of the process involves an opportunity for both parties to discuss the whole truth. It’s natural for the person who has been cheated on to have many questions they feel need to be answered to regain trust. To reach a place of forgiveness, the transgressor needs to be emotionally honest and take responsibility for what they have done. Without taking this step forward, forgiveness may not be found and an intimate connection may not be restored. A relationship expert can help couples navigate this tricky process together.
5. Avoiding the “Four Horsemen” of Conflict
Relationship expert John Gottman has defined the four horsemen of the “apocalypse” of a relationship: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. None of these are productive ways to respond to a partner, and employing these tactics will only heighten tensions and drive a couple further apart. A marriage counselor can help a couple identify when they are responding to each other in these unproductive ways and help suggest healthy alternatives that promote a healthier conversation.
6. Creating a Safe Space
Rather than bringing negative energy into the home, it can be helpful to have a neutral territory to discuss conflicts. Furthermore, a therapist’s office provides a space for a couple to discuss their issues away from those who may overhear them, such as children or other family members. A couples therapy session is a place where each party can feel safe being honest without fear of judgment.
7. Fostering an Attachment Bond
While attachment science is often discussed regarding child development, it is equally important for adults. Emotionally Focused Therapy is an emerging field that focuses on a couple’s attachment to one another. A secure attachment bond has shown to provide resilience to the couple and improved self-esteem to each individual. Therapy provides a time and place for a married couple to get to know each other better and become more secure in their bond.
When things may look grim for a person’s marriage, there is always help. Like all things, when a couple is willing to put in the time and effort, they can look forward to the reward of a healthier, happier relationship. Marriage counseling can help married couples find common ground and feel bonded once again.Learn More
Every romantic relationship needs a strong friendship at its center. Friendship is essential to long-lasting, passionate connection. It is like the coals of a bonfire that maintain the heat through the night and remain even after all the wood has burned up. Even in the morning with a little stoking and more wood, the coals quickly blaze again into a warm fire. Friendship is the foundation of long-lasting romance.
The friendship we share with our partner is not second rate to the romance and passion of love. Without a strong friendship, there is no foundation for romance. If you tell me that romance and intimacy is dead in your relationship the first thing to start working on is your friendship! When friendship with your partner dies out, the whole relationship loses its foundation and its spark.
The great philosopher Aristotle once said in his writing, “A friend is a second self.” This is one of my favorite phrases to think about when considering friendship, especially in the context of romantic relationships. True friendship brings forth the desire to know your partner as intimately as you know yourself. Of course, you will never be able to know your partner completely, but you can get pretty close! Desiring to grow in intimacy with your partner in such a deep way creates a continued journey to know our partners and be known by our partners. If you don’t know what your partners hopes, desires, and aspirations are, then how can you support them in those? If you don’t know what their stressors, sensitivities, and hurts are, then how can you be present to their pain and difficulty? Friendship is the foundation of love that lasts.
Drs. John & Julie Gottman are world renowned relationship experts. They have dedicated their lives to learning what separates the “relationship masters” from the “relationship disasters.” The Gottman’s call their blueprint for healthy relationships The Sound Relationship House. Each level of the Sound Relationship House contains an essential ingredient for making love last, and at the very foundation of the Sound Relationship House is friendship. The Gottman’s refer to Love Maps as the center of friendship, and the foundation of love that lasts. Love Maps refer to the amount of mental space you have in your brain for your partner. A Love map is your knowledge of your partner’s inner world. Research conducted by the Gottman’s has revealed that the amount of mental room a partner has for their relationship and for the world of their partner predicts how stable the relationship will be.
Masters of relationships develop a map of their partner’s history, likes, dislikes, concerns, preferences and the current world of their partner. The Masters of relationships create Love Maps of their partner’s world by asking open-ended questions. An open-ended question is a question that can’t be answered by a simple “yes” or “no.” An example of an open-ended question is, “How was your day today?” This question leaves room for your partner to respond in the way they would like and lets them really tell you about their day. It shows that you are really interested in their life and their experience. In comparison, “Did you have a good day today?” is a closed ended question, and while it shows you are interested and care about their day, it limits the response of your partner to being “yes” or “no.”
Just like the operating system on your phone, the Love Maps of your relationship need to be routinely updated. We are always changing and evolving. Our perspectives, stressors, hopes and dreams can change with time, so it is important to take time to update the Love Maps in your relationship. This exercise below is a simple way to update your love maps and to develop the skill of asking open-ended questions about your partners answers. Enhancing your love maps is really about building friendship on an intimate level. True friendship is the bedrock of love that lasts. Try this activity to test & build Love Maps with your partner!
THE LOVE MAPS QUESTIONS GAME
Now that you understand the importance of building Love Maps, play a fun, light-hearted game with your partner. The more you play, the more you’ll learn about the Love Maps concept and how to apply it to your relationship.
Step 1: Both you and your partner take a piece of paper, and with a pen, write down twenty numbers between 1 and 60.
Step 2: Below is a list of numbered questions. Beginning with the top of your column, match the numbers you chose with the corresponding question. Each of you should ask your partner this question. If your partner answers correctly (you be the judge), he or she receives a point. If your partner responds incorrectly, neither of you receives any points. The same rules apply when you answer. The winner is the person with the higher score after you’ve both answer all twenty questions.
- Name two of my closest friends (2 points)
- What is my favorite musical group, composer, or instrument? (2 points)
- What was I wearing when we first met? (2 points)
- Name one of my hobbies. (3 points)
- Where was I born? (1 point)
- What stresses am I facing right now? (4 points)
- Describe in detail what I did today, or yesterday. (4 points)
- When is my birthday? (1 point)
- What is the date of our anniversary? (1 point)
- Who is my favorite relative? (2 points)
- What is my fondest unrealized dream? (5 points)
- What is my favorite website? (2 points)
- What is one of my greatest fears or disaster scenarios? (3 points)
- What is my favorite time of day for lovemaking? (3 points)
- What makes me feel most competent? (4 points)
- What turns me on sexually? (3 points)
- What is my favorite meal? (2 points)
- What is my favorite way to spend an evening? (2 points)
- What is my favorite color? (1 point)
- What personal improvements do I want to make in my life? (4 points)
- What kind of present would I like best? (2 points)
- What was one of my best childhood experiences? (2 points)
- What was my favorite vacation? (2 points)
- What is one of my favorite ways to relax? (4 points)
- Who is my greatest source of support (other than you)? (3 points)
- What is my favorite sport? (2 points)
- What do I most like to do with time off? (2 points)
- What is one of my favorite weekend activities? (2 points)
- What is my dream getaway place? (3 points)
- What is my favorite movie? (2 points)
- What are some of the important events coming up in my life? How do I feel about them? (4 points)
- What are some of my favorite ways to work out? (2 points)
- Who was my best friend in childhood? (3 points)
- What is one of my favorite magazines? (2 points)
- Name one of my major rivals or “enemies.” (3 points)
- What would I consider my dream job? (4 points)
- What do I fear the most? (4 points)
- Who is my least favorite relative? (3 points)
- What is my favorite holiday? (2 points points)
- What kinds of books do I most like to read? (3 points)
- What is my favorite TV show? (2 points)
- Which side of the bed do I prefer? (2 points)
- What am I most sad about? (4 points)
- Name one of my concerns or worries. (4 points)
- What medical problems do I worry about? (2 points)
- What was my most embarrassing moment? (3 points)
- What was my worst childhood experience? (3 points)
- Name two people I most admire. (4 points)
- Name my favorite ice cream flavor. (2 points)
- Of all the people we both know, who do I like the least? (3 points)
- What is one of my favorite desserts? (2 points)
- What is my social security number?
- Name one of my novels. (2 points)
- What is my favorite restaurant? (2 points)
- What are two of my aspirations, hopes, wishes? (4 points)
- Do I have a secret ambition? What is it? (4 points)
- What foods do I hate? (2 points)
- What is my favorite animal? (2 points)
- What is my favorite song? (2 points)
- Which sports teams is my favorite? (2 points)
*Adapted from John Gottman, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work
PhD, G. J., & Silver, N. (2015). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert (Revised ed.). Harmony.
Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
By John Paul Dombrowski – Therapist Intern