Nurturing Healthy Connections in Families …When should you seek help?

As the holiday season approaches, it is not uncommon for families to seek resolution to longstanding issues before gathering for festive celebrations. The recognition that children inevitably grow into adults is not a ground-breaking revelation; however, at times, families find themselves facing conflicts between adult children and parents. There can also be long-standing childhood sibling rivalry hanging around causing the adult relationships between siblings and parents much pain. No parent wants to see their children at war with each other over decades. This can be traumatising for all involved. If left unresolved future generations will carry the scares.

In our continuous commitment to cultivating robust family dynamics, we aim to underscore the significance of respectful communication and explore the potential role of mediation in addressing challenges within dysfunctional family relationships.

Recognising Disrespectful Communication:

Disrespectful communication, characterised by actions that undermine, disregard, or harm the well-being of individuals, can strain family relationships.

Here are some signs of such communication:

·        Disregarding Boundaries: Crossing personal boundaries, intruding into private matters, or dismissing the need for personal space.

·        Invalidation: Dismissing thoughts, feelings, or experiences, leading to a sense of being misunderstood or unimportant.

·        Interrupting and Talking Over: Demonstrating a lack of respect by consistently interrupting and preventing the other person from expressing themselves.

·        Name-Calling and Insults: Using derogatory language or insults that can be hurtful and damaging to the relationship.

·        Sarcasm and Mockery: Employing a sarcastic or mocking tone that conveys contempt and undermines the sincerity of conversations.

·        Blaming and Accusations: Placing blame without taking responsibility, leading to defensiveness and escalation.

·        Controlling Behaviour: Attempting to manipulate thoughts, actions, or decisions, disregarding autonomy and individual choices.

·        Public Humiliation: Criticising or embarrassing in public, causing feelings of shame and damaging self-esteem.

·        Stonewalling: Refusing to engage or shutting down communication, preventing resolution and understanding.

·        Manipulative Communication: Using manipulation, guilt-tripping, or emotional blackmail to achieve personal goals.

·        Failure to Acknowledge Achievements: Ignoring or downplaying accomplishments, dismissing efforts and contributions.

·        Lack of Empathy: Demonstrating a lack of understanding for the other person’s feelings or challenges, creating an emotionally distant atmosphere.

Positive communication is crucial during the holiday season. Here are five tips for fostering positive communication with family at Christmas time:

1.     Active Listening:

o   Practice active listening by giving your full attention to the speaker.

o   Avoid interrupting and allow the person to express themselves fully before responding.

o   Reflect on what they’ve said to demonstrate understanding and empathy.

2.     Choose Positive Language:

o   Use positive and affirming language to convey your thoughts.

o   Avoid negative or accusatory language that may escalate tensions.

o   Frame your messages in a way that promotes understanding and collaboration.

o   Ask questions, be curious not critical.

3.     Express Gratitude:

o   Take the time to express gratitude for the positive aspects of your relationships.

o   Acknowledge and appreciate the efforts others have made during the holiday season.

o   Focusing on gratitude can create a positive atmosphere and strengthen family bonds.

4.     Set Boundaries:

o   Clearly communicate your boundaries and expectations for the holiday period.

o   Respect the boundaries of others and be mindful of their comfort levels.

o   Establishing and respecting boundaries helps prevent misunderstandings and conflicts.

5.     Find Common Ground:

o   Identify shared interests or activities that family members can enjoy together.

o   Focus on common ground to build connections and foster positive interactions.

o   Steering conversations toward shared positive experiences can enhance family unity.

Remember, the key is to approach communication with openness, empathy, and a willingness to understand each other’s perspectives. By incorporating these tips, you can contribute to a positive and harmonious Christmas celebration with your family.

When should you Consider Mediation?

Mediation can be a positive intervention in dysfunctional relationships under various circumstances, however most families will not solve their long-standing issues in just one appointment with a mediator or family counsellor.

·        Communication Breakdown: Significant breakdowns leading to conflict or misunderstanding.

·        Recurring Conflicts: Persistent issues that seem impossible to resolve through regular dialogue.

·        Difficulty Expressing Feelings: Challenges in expressing emotions or needs in a healthy way.

·        Role Reversal Issues: Struggles with role expectations between parents and adult children.

·        Major Life Transitions: Changes in family dynamics during significant life events.

·        Inability to Resolve Past Issues: Unresolved issues impacting the relationship negatively.

Long standing sibling rivalry can corrode the family unit if left unresolved.

·        Family Business or Financial Disputes: Conflicts related to business matters or finances

within the family.

·        Cultural or Generational Differences: Tension arising from diverse perspectives within the family.

·        Safety Concerns: When there are emotional or physical safety concerns (Note: Safety is paramount, and mediation should only be pursued if all parties feel safe participating). The mediator will call time and will not tolerate abuse of any party attending.

Mutual Willingness to Participate:

For mediation to be effective, all involved parties should willingly participate in the process.

It’s crucial to assess the readiness and willingness of all parties before considering mediation. In cases involving abuse, ongoing safety concerns, or unwilling participants, seeking professional guidance such as therapy or counselling may be more appropriate.

Note: Some people with mental health challenges may need extra time. Counselling or mediation can be made difficult at times due to heightened emotions, emotional regulation issues, refusal to listen to others, dismissing themselves from the room, needing to be right, talking over people or not speaking at all. Mental health issues must be spoken about prior to booking a mediation.

At DIPAC, we are committed to providing a supportive and neutral space for families to navigate challenges, rebuild relationships, and foster open and respectful communication. If you have any questions or would like more information about our mediation services, please feel free to reach out.

Please remember DIPAC – Walk and Talk Therapy, it is called “Eco Therapy” Just write “Ecotherapy” in the notes when you book online. If you are time poor and find it hard to get your walk in, this may be for you. Therapy does not need to be in an office or can be it’s up to you.

Reminder of Christmas Holidays

Just a quick reminder we will be closing for the Christmas break Dec 18th 2023 to January 18th 2024

Those couples who are going through the 30 days to a deeper connection program, you may need to plan your sessions in advance to make sure your dates are locked in within the next fortnight.

The 5th step on the program is the most important step please try to not miss this step before Christmas.

Brochure and Testimonials – 

Emotional fluctuations, irrationality, and a sense of being overwhelmed Let’s Talk about it!

The onset of perimenopause may initiate in some women in their 30s, but it predominantly begins in women aged 40 to 44. This transitional phase is characterised by shifts in menstrual flow and cycle length, often accompanied by sudden surges in estrogen. Emotional fluctuations, irrationality, and a sense of being overwhelmed may arise, posing challenges in managing life’s mental load. Additionally, women may experience body aches and pains.

It’s crucial to recognise this transformation not as a failure but as a natural evolution. Personally, at the age of 59, I view this change positively, I am now on the other side living my best life. I was well managed and supported by my wonderful husband and friends along my path of transition.

A personal note to self: “I am changing, I am not failing.”

Perimenopause results from the gradual cessation of ovarian function, leading to erratic ovulation and eventual cessation. Hormonal fluctuations, especially changes in estrogen levels, contribute to symptoms. Higher estrogen levels may mirror premenstrual syndrome (PMS), while lower levels can lead to hot flashes or night sweats. These changes may coincide with regular menstrual cycles. Your body is changing and it is seeking a new normal.

Common symptoms include mood changes, alterations in sexual desire, difficulty concentrating, headaches, night sweats, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances, joint and muscle aches, sweating, increased frequency of urination, and PMS-like symptoms. Individual experiences vary, making it crucial to consult a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis, as symptoms may resemble other conditions. However, blood tests for hormones can be inconclusive and not reliable.

Treatment is typically unnecessary unless symptoms are bothersome. Options may include hormone therapy to stabilise hormone levels or antidepressants to manage mood swings (often stabilising hormones will stabilise moods as well). Lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy diet, getting sufficient calcium, regular exercise, identifying triggers for hot flashes, and seeking counselling or cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), can be recommended. A counsellor can be particularly beneficial during this phase everyone needs a safe place to talk.

Discussing treatment options with a healthcare provider is essential. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) can alleviate symptoms but may have potential side effects and risks for some people. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) may also be effective but come with potential side effects.

It’s crucial to make informed decisions based on personal health considerations, and consulting with specialists is recommended. Lifestyle modifications, though varying in effectiveness, may include maintaining a healthy weight and considering cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) for improved well-being. While evidence for the efficacy of practices like breathing exercises, relaxation, yoga, and alternative therapies is varied, individual responses may differ also. Always consult healthcare professionals for personalised guidance if unsure.

How can a partner show support?

Supporting a woman going through perimenopause and menopause requires understanding, empathy, and open communication. Here are some ways men/partners can offer support during this transitional phase:

1.     Educate Yourself:

·        Take the time to educate yourself about perimenopause and menopause. Understanding the physical and emotional changes women may experience will enable you to offer informed support.

2.     Open Communication:

·        Encourage open communication. Create a safe space where the woman feels comfortable discussing her experiences, concerns, and any symptoms she may be facing.

3.     Be Patient:

·        Understand that hormonal fluctuations can impact mood and emotions. Be patient, empathetic, and avoid dismissing or minimising her feelings. Sometimes, just having someone to listen can make a significant difference.

4.     Learn About Symptoms:

·        Familiarise yourself with common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, such as hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep disturbances. Being aware of these symptoms can help you provide better support.

5.     Offer Emotional Support:

·        Offer emotional support during moments of frustration, anxiety, or sadness. Sometimes, a comforting presence and understanding can be more valuable than offering solutions.

6.     Assist with Practical Matters:

·        Help with practical matters, especially during days when symptoms are more challenging. This can include assisting with household chores, childcare, or anything that may alleviate her stress.

7.     Educate Others:

·        If you’re in a family or workplace setting, help educate others about perimenopause and menopause. This can create a more supportive environment for the woman and reduce any stigma or misunderstanding.

8.     Encourage Self-Care:

·        Encourage and support self-care practices. Whether it’s taking time for relaxation, exercise, or engaging in hobbies, self-care can play a crucial role in managing symptoms.

9.     Accompany to Medical Appointments:

·        Offer to accompany her to medical appointments. This shows your commitment to her well-being and allows you to be informed about any treatment plans or recommendations from healthcare professionals. Tip: Two minds are better than one when taking in clinical information sometimes.

10.  Be Understanding About Intimacy:

·        Be understanding about changes in intimacy that may occur due to hormonal shifts. Open communication about desires, concerns, and any physical changes is essential for maintaining a healthy relationship.

11.  Consider Couples Counselling:

·        If the changes impact the relationship significantly, consider couples counselling. A mental health professional can provide guidance and strategies for navigating these changes together.

12.  Encourage Healthy Lifestyle Choices:

·        Support healthy lifestyle choices, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management. These factors can positively influence symptoms and overall well-being.

Remember that every woman’s experience with perimenopause and menopause is unique, so it’s essential to tailor your support based on her individual needs and preferences.

A support question: How can I support you daily and who do I need to be for you?

Asking the question with compassion is key: A women needs time, tenderness and for you to catch her tears.

A woman is brave- She is Independent and She may need to lean into you from time to time.

NVC – The Non Violent Communication Model

We all want to be heard… Arguments can escalate very quickly and before you know it we are out of control.

What is the purpose of NVC?

The purpose of NVC is to help all involved to sharpen their awareness of language so that they can express what really matters to them, and also hear what really matters to others. It involves empathic communication whereby we can attune ourselves to both our own and other people’s real needs.

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a communication process developed by Marshall Rosenberg, aimed at fostering compassionate communication and conflict resolution. The process revolves around four key components, often referred to as the “Four Pillars” of NVC:

1.    Observation:

·         Description, not Evaluation: The first pillar involves making observations without attaching evaluations or judgments. Instead of expressing criticism or blame, focus on describing the specific actions or behaviours that are affecting you. This helps to create a shared understanding of the situation.

2.    Feelings:

·         Expressing Emotions: The second pillar involves expressing how you feel about the observed situation. It encourages individuals to connect with and communicate their emotions in a clear and specific way. Recognizing and sharing emotions can help build empathy and understanding.

3.    Needs:

·         Identifying Needs: The third pillar is about identifying the unmet needs that are contributing to your feelings. By understanding and expressing your needs, you can create a basis for finding mutually satisfying solutions. NVC emphasizes that everyone’s needs are valid and encourages cooperation in meeting those needs.

4.    Requests:

·         Making Requests, not Demands: The fourth pillar involves making clear, positive requests rather than demands. These requests should be specific, doable, and tied to meeting the identified needs. By making requests, individuals open the door for collaboration and finding solutions that meet the needs of all parties involved.

Implementation of NVC:

1.    Self-awareness:

·         Start by becoming aware of your own feelings and needs. This self-awareness is crucial for effective communication.

2.    Observation without judgment:

·         When communicating with others, focus on specific observations without attaching blame or judgment. Describe the situation objectively.

3.    Express feelings:

·         Clearly express your emotions related to the observed situation. Be honest and specific about how you feel.

4.    Identify needs:

·         Reflect on the underlying needs that are connected to your feelings. What needs of yours are not being met in the current situation?

5.    Make requests:

·         Formulate clear and positive requests that are aimed at meeting your needs. Avoid making demands, and be open to negotiation and collaboration.

6.    Empathetic listening:

·         Practice empathetic listening when others are expressing themselves. Try to hear their observations, feelings, needs, and requests without judgment.

7.    Avoiding blame and criticism:

·         NVC emphasises the importance of avoiding blame and criticism, as these can create defensiveness and hinder effective communication.

By integrating these pillars into your communication, NVC aims to create a framework for resolving conflicts, fostering understanding, and building connections based on empathy and compassion. It is important to note that NVC is a skill that requires practice, and individuals often find it beneficial to participate in Couples Counselling or Life Coaching to enhance their proficiency in applying these principles.

Emotions Make Babies and Emotions Make Wars

My objective is to educate to make the world a better place, one person at a time, the only person we will ever control is ourselves.

Emotions are the most powerful force in the human body. Forget mind /body connection, the whole body is an eco-system, it’s a whole, always has been, always will be. If your hand is not working properly, you seek a professional of your choice, your neck hurts, you see your preferred professional, your mind is not working the way you want, you seek a professional of your choice.

Whether you are driving your career, in a business, relationship, partnership, marriage or family, learning to manage and read emotions is one of the most beneficial skills ever attained.

If you find yourself reacting in a way you are not proud of in reflection, you may like to seek some guidance from a professional counsellor or phycologist to help get to the root.

Have you ever heard of the saying we often hurt the ones we love?

There may be reasons for this: You could be projecting guilt, self- loathing or shame. You may be blinded to seeing their prospective. You could have an avoidant attachment style, or you may delve into self- destructive behaviours or even self -sabotage.

Embarking on the exploration of human emotions proves to be a captivating journey, driven by our sincere desire to comprehend one another. Navigating this intricate realm, we often grapple with the challenge of deciphering emotions accurately, exemplified by the familiar yet perplexing inquiry, “What’s the matter?” Responding with a simple “Nothing, that’s just my face,” can mistakenly project a grumpy demeanour, highlighting our inherent curiosity about the intentions of those we engage with—are they friends or foes? Powerful or subservient? A potential mate or not?

This pursuit of understanding emotions naturally evolves into a profound, philosophical inquiry. Imagine a moment when someone’s reaction to an event surprise you, prompting the question: “Is that other person experiencing the same event as me?” This contemplation extends to the broader query: “Do humans share similar emotions, or are we inherently different?”

Over time, philosophy has wrestled with these questions, often concluding that our experiences are incommensurate. However, recent revelations from neuroscience challenge this notion, suggesting that, despite perceived differences, we are more alike than different.

Cutting-edge research utilising brain scans reveals a remarkable 90 percent accuracy in reading human emotions. When exposed to images of unpleasant scenarios, individuals exhibit surprisingly similar, predictable brain patterns. This aligns with findings from a university study, demonstrating synchronised brain patterns between storytellers and listeners, emphasising the universal impact of stories.

Despite diverse individual experiences, our neural signatures for emotions remain essentially the same from person to person. This underscores our shared humanity and raises the possibility that computers could master recognising emotions with unprecedented accuracy—potentially surpassing our own abilities.

This revelation humbly acknowledges that our accuracy in understanding emotions falls short compared to the precision achievable by artificial intelligence. As we navigate effective communication and public speaking, enhancing our ability to read emotions can significantly improve our connections with others.

In essence, the research posits that, contrary to assumptions, we are more alike than different. The implications are profound, hinting at the potential for improved communication and interpersonal understanding for those willing to explore the shared emotional landscape that unites us all. The journey to unravel the mysteries of human emotions continues, promising insights that could reshape the way we connect and communicate.

Transitioning to the emotion of anger: Anger is on the rise in today’s world, it often stems from a foundation of sadness. Seeking help from a counsellor or psychologist is advisable for those struggling to control anger, as it can have destructive consequences for oneself and others.

Let’s delve into the effects of “yelling” on the body for you and other when angry. Examining the physiological and psychological changes that occur in the body when someone expresses anger loudly. When someone yells in an angry manner, the human body undergoes various responses associated with the “fight or flight” stress response:  It’s scary right!

·        The body experiences an increase in heart rate, preparing for action.

·        Blood pressure temporarily rises, supplying more oxygen to muscles for potential physical action.

·        Stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are released, energising the body and sharpening the senses.

·        Muscles, particularly in the neck, shoulders, and jaw, tense up as part of the body’s readiness for physical exertion.

·        Stress-induced rapid, shallow breathing limits oxygen reaching the brain, contributing to breathlessness or tension.

·        Pupils dilate, enhancing visual acuity and alertness to surroundings. Note: In people with prolonged stress, vision can be impaired leaving you with burred sight.

·        The prefrontal cortex, responsible for thoughts actions and emotions may be temporarily impaired during high-stress situations.

·        Anger triggers the release of neurotransmitters, heightening emotional responses like irritability or impatience. Leaving little room for rational negotiation.

·        The stress response redirects blood flow from non-essential functions, leading to digestive changes such as a queasy stomach or decreased appetite. “I feel physically sick”

These responses are natural defence mechanisms designed to help individuals respond to perceived threats. However, frequent or prolonged activation of the stress response can have negative implications for both physical and mental health. Learning effective coping mechanisms and communication skills is crucial for cultivating a healthier response to anger and stress.

Note to parents and teachers:  ACE’s Adverse Childhood Experiences- prolonged activation of a child’s nervous system can have negative lifelong health effects on a child. Here is additional information for your further interest Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): Impact on brain, body and behaviour – YouTube Dr Felitti  Dr. Vincent J. Felitti – Medical Services ( Adverse Childhood Experiences and Adult Criminality: How Long Must We Live before We Possess Our Own Lives? – PMC (

Prevention is always better than cure!

How can we have uncomfortable conversations better?

Couples engage in conflicts or disagreements for various reasons, and it’s a natural part of any relationship. The causes of these disagreements can be complex and multifaceted. Here are some common reasons why couples may face challenges:

Communication Issues: Misunderstandings, poor communication, or a lack of effective communication skills can lead to conflicts. Differences in communication styles may contribute to misunderstandings.

Unmet Expectations: Partners having different expectations about roles, responsibilities, or the trajectory of the relationship can lead to frustration and conflict. Unspoken or unmet expectations can result in feelings of disappointment.

Stress and External Pressures: External factors, such as work-related stress, financial difficulties, or family issues, can spill over into the relationship. Couples may find themselves arguing more when faced with external pressures, and stressors can exacerbate existing tensions.

Lack of Quality Time: Busy schedules and competing priorities can lead to a lack of quality time spent together. Feeling neglected or disconnected may result in conflicts as partners express their desire for more attention and intimacy.

Personal Differences: Individuals in a relationship may have different values, beliefs, or interests, leading to clashes if there is a lack of acceptance and understanding.

Unresolved Issues: Past conflicts or unresolved issues that linger can resurface and contribute to ongoing tension. Avoiding discussions about important matters may lead to a buildup of resentment and result in future arguments.

Jealousy and Insecurity: Feelings of jealousy or insecurity can arise due to perceived threats, whether real or imagined. Lack of trust or perceived neglect may trigger arguments as partners attempt to address these emotional concerns.

Power Struggles: In some relationships, there may be a struggle for dominance or control, leading to conflicts as partners seek to assert themselves.

Differences in Values or Priorities: Fundamental differences in values, goals, or priorities may lead to disagreements about important life decisions.

Unresolved Emotional Issues: Individual emotional issues, such as unresolved trauma or personal problems, can affect the dynamics of a relationship and may surface in arguments if not addressed separately.

It’s important to note that occasional disagreements are a normal part of any relationship. What matters is how couples navigate and resolve conflicts. Healthy communication, empathy, and a willingness to compromise are crucial for maintaining a strong and resilient relationship. Seeking professional help, such as couples counselling, can be beneficial for addressing underlying issues and improving communication skills.

The DIPAC program to help couples get to the root of the problem and reset:

5 Steps to a better more connected relationship over 30days

Resolving conflicts in a marriage requires effective communication, empathy, and a commitment to finding mutually beneficial solutions

 #mediation not #negotiation

Mediation is where we focus on the problem/issue not the person. I am sure you would agree, wonderful people can have poor behaviours at times, focus on the issue NOT the person.

Here are some strategies to help navigate and resolve conflicts in a marriage:

Open and Honest Communication: Express your thoughts and feelings openly and honestly. Use “I” statements to avoid blame and accusations. Be an active listener and strive to understand your partner’s perspective.

Choose the Right Time and Place: Find a suitable time and place to discuss issues, avoiding heated moments. Ensure you both have enough time to talk without interruptions.

Stay Calm: Keep your emotions in check and avoid escalating the situation. Take a break if needed to cool down before returning to the conversation.

Focus on the Issue, Not the Person: Address the specific problem at hand rather than attacking your partner personally. Avoid generalisations swearing and name-calling. Name calling and swearing at your partner is “contemptuous” behaviour

Use Non-Defensive Language: Avoid becoming defensive or deflecting blame. Take responsibility for your actions and acknowledge your partner’s concerns.

Find Common Ground: Identify shared goals and values to create a foundation for compromise. Look for areas where your interests align to build understanding.

Seek to Understand: Practice empathy by trying to understand your partner’s perspective. Validate their feelings even if you don’t agree with their viewpoint.

Be Solution-Oriented: Focus on finding solutions rather than dwelling on the problem. Brainstorm together to generate potential compromises.

Compromise: Be willing to give and take. Find middle ground that both partners can accept. Prioritise the overall health and happiness of the relationship.

Take a Break if Needed: If emotions are running high and the conversation is unproductive, take a break. Step away to collect your thoughts and return when you both feel calmer.

Use Humour: Humour can diffuse tension and lighten the mood. Use it judiciously to avoid minimising the importance of the issue. Humour should not include making a joke at your partner’s expense.

Seek Professional Help: If conflicts persist or become more complex, consider seeking the help of a couples therapist or counsellor. A neutral third party can provide guidance and facilitate productive discussions. Counselling can take some time to resolve deep rooted issues. Many cross-cultural marriages do not have many issues until they have a family. “How do we come together as a family?” when we are both wanting to raise our family similar to our own experiences as a child?

Establish Clear Communication Patterns: Establish healthy communication patterns by regularly checking in with each other. Create an environment where both partners feel safe expressing their needs and concerns.

Apologise and Forgive: Apologise sincerely when you’ve made a mistake or hurt your partner. Practice forgiveness to let go of past grievances and move forward.

Work on Continuous Improvement: Commit to ongoing personal and relationship growth. Learn from past conflicts and apply those lessons to future interactions.

Remember that conflict is a natural part of any relationship, and the goal is not to eliminate it entirely but to manage it constructively. By using these strategies, couples can build a foundation of trust, understanding, and effective communication that contributes to a healthier and more resilient marriage. Note: It is important not to us inflammatory vocabulary. E.g. “we are fighting” is inflammatory, the word FIGHT tells you and the other person “we are at war” and we know in a war, there is one winner. Also swearing, when you are experiencing a difference of opinion swearing may exacerbate the situation.

There are some significant changes that will need to take place in an individual when they get married.  Note: You have never been married before and you have never had children before, you’re not expected to know everything; it is progressive learning over a lifetime.

Navigating Anxiety within Marriage: A Journey to Emotional Safety

Welcome to another edition of “Fight or Flight” where we explore essential topics related to personal and relational well-being. In this instalment, we delve into the complex and sensitive issue of managing anxiety within the context of a marriage. Anxiety is a common human experience that can affect individuals in various ways, and when it touches the lives of married couples, it requires understanding, open communication, and mutual support.

Normalising Anxiety

Anxiety is a natural response to life’s stressors and challenges. It’s vital to normalise this experience, both in our own lives and within our relationships. The first step in addressing anxiety within a marriage is recognising that it is a shared human experience, and it should not be stigmatised or seen as a sign of weakness. Instead, it can be an opportunity for couples to grow stronger together.

Open Communication

Effective communication is the cornerstone of a healthy marriage, especially when anxiety enters the equation. Partners should create a safe and non-judgmental space for open and honest discussions about their feelings, concerns, and the triggers that contribute to anxiety. It’s essential to actively listen to one another, express empathy, and validate each other’s experiences.

Seeking Professional Help

When anxiety significantly impacts one or both partners in a marriage, seeking the guidance of a mental health professional or Couples therapist can be a crucial step in managing it effectively. These professionals can provide strategies and coping mechanisms tailored to the unique needs and dynamics of the individuals involved. They offer a safe and impartial environment where couples can explore the root causes of anxiety and develop practical tools to address them.

I like 1st to educate you, to help give you an understanding of what exactly is happening to your body and offer guidance around other areas that may be contributing to the problem. “Distraction” is not the best path to take to healing.

You cannot drink, watch porn or sleep your way out of anxiety. Having a vulnerable conversation with a profession will help you feel lighter. Note: We have constructed the loneliest generation in history. Feeling alone in life, even in a room of many is not an uncommon discussion in my practice.

Mutual Support

Supporting each other through anxiety challenges is a fundamental aspect of a strong and healthy marriage. Both partners should actively engage in understanding and empathising with each other’s experiences. This may involve reassuring one another, offering physical comfort, and being patient during anxious moments. Mutual support can strengthen the bond between partners and help them navigate anxiety more effectively.


In addition to mutual support, self-care plays a pivotal role in managing anxiety within a marriage. Encouraging one another to engage in self-care practices can be beneficial. These practices may include mindfulness techniques, relaxation exercises, regular physical activity, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Prioritising self-care ensures that each partner has the emotional resilience needed to cope with their own anxiety and support their spouse effectively. Note: You can show up more for your partner and family when you look after yourself

Building Resilience

Anxiety can be particularly challenging, but building emotional resilience is a valuable skill that can help individuals and couples navigate life’s ups and downs. Together, partners can develop healthy coping strategies and problem-solving skills that empower them to face anxiety and stressful situations head-on. These strategies can range from deep breathing exercises to setting realistic goals for managing anxiety triggers.

Boundaries and Space

In marriage, setting healthy boundaries and providing personal space can be vital when managing anxiety. Sometimes, individuals need space to process their emotions or engage in self-soothing activities. Partners should respect and communicate their need for these boundaries while also ensuring that they maintain a sense of connection and intimacy within the relationship.

Support Network

Maintaining connections with a support network of friends and family is essential when dealing with anxiety in a marriage. This external support system can provide additional emotional reinforcement during challenging times. It’s crucial for couples to encourage and participate in each other’s support networks, recognising the value of diverse perspectives and sources of strength.

Take ways

In conclusion, managing anxiety within a marriage is a journey towards emotional well-being that requires understanding, communication, and mutual support. By normalising anxiety, fostering open communication, seeking professional help when necessary, and prioritising self-care, couples can strengthen their bond and better address anxiety’s impact on their lives. Building emotional resilience, respecting boundaries, and engaging with a support network all contribute to a comprehensive strategy for managing anxiety within a marriage.

Remember that every marriage is unique, and the approach to addressing anxiety may vary based on individual circumstances. Seeking professional guidance can provide valuable insights and tools tailored to specific needs. By working together, couples can transform anxiety from a challenge into an opportunity for growth and deeper connection.

Thank you for joining weekly in exploring life. I sincerely hope that the insights shared weekly can contribute to your well-being and harmony of your relationships. Stay tuned for more valuable content in our future newsletters.

Additional information:

Understanding the training and accountability of the professionals who are in a position to help you.

Why are Counsellors and Phycologist required to undertake mandatory supervision consistently throughout the calendar year?

Ultimately, Clinical Supervision is a critical component of good Clinical Governance aiming to protect the service users and improve the knowledge and skills of the practitioners, ensuring that the service provided is safe, efficient, and effective.

The main purpose of supervision is to ensure the efficacy of the therapist’s psychotherapy practice which, in turn, will enable a therapist to work towards the best possible psychotherapy practice for their clients. Supervision is conducted within a formal working relationship.

Communication issues and unrealistic expectations stand out as significant factors leading to the erosion of desire and romantic feelings in relationships.

Communication issues and unrealistic expectations stand out as significant factors leading to the erosion of romantic feelings in relationships. However, there are strategies to halt this decline. Relationships are akin to investments and require dedication, especially within the context of marriage.

Identifying warning signs in a relationship is essential, such as excessive jealousy, frequent deceit, unwarranted criticism, or belittlement from a partner. Another major red flag is a reluctance to compromise; relationships should be a two-way street.

In summary, infidelity can often be resolved with effort. Typically, infidelity occurs when one or both partners neglect the relationship’s needs. People enter relationships for positive feelings and stay when they feel valued. In the 21st century, women, in particular, are less tolerant of partners who neglect the relationship. Therefore, it’s crucial to periodically self-reflect and engage in acts of romance and appreciation.

A valuable tip: If your partner strays from the relationship, it likely stems from feeling consistently undesired, unloved, or undervalued in the relationship or in their childhood. While other factors may contribute to infidelity, it’s vital to focus on mutual effort and attentiveness to each other’s needs.

Additionally, ask your partner directly about their needs in the relationship. This open communication can foster a deeper connection.

A personal reminder: If alcohol consumption exceeds the healthy limit of two standard drinks per day, it may indicate a priority shift away from your partner. Seeking help for personal dependency issues is crucial in such cases.

A word of caution: If your partner has had an affair, and both of you decide to work through it, suggesting an open relationship to rekindle the spark is ill-advised. This can exacerbate feelings of undesirability and undervaluation.

The 21st century offers more choices and fewer established rules, lack of self-management, leading to self-discipline challenges and boundary issues. It’s crucial to understand your desires and prioritise personal happiness. Joy begins and ends with you.

Here are some tips from Dr. John Gottman to improve communication:

1.     Recognise the “Four Horsemen” of relationship conflict: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling. Understanding these patterns is essential for replacing them with healthy communication.

2.     Distinguish between expressing a complaint and criticising your partner. Complaints address specific issues, while criticism attacks a partner’s character.

3.     Contempt is even more damaging than criticism, as it assumes moral superiority over your partner and belittles them.

4.     Avoid defensiveness, which usually backfires by dismissing your partner’s concerns and refusing responsibility.

5.     Stonewalling, often a response to contempt, involves withdrawing from the conversation and not engaging with your partner, exacerbating conflicts.

If your relationship is struggling, seek help and be open to learning new ways to communicate. A couple’s counsellor can guide you through this process, but it may take time to build trust and drop defensive walls. Most couples undergo therapy for 6 to 12 weeks, including single and double sessions, with a “Disclosure session” as a crucial starting point. Moving through to the “Reset”. There’s no set timeline for therapy, so be patient with yourself if you’re facing challenges in your relationship.

5 Steps to a deeper connection over 30 days was created to help couples build a more solid foundation for connecting and bonding Couples Counselling Services Australia | DIPAC

Note: Most of us have not had the best role models for modelling effective communication in a relationship.

Reminder:  Walk and Talk is back- Connection with nature: Spending time outdoors has proven mental health benefits, including stress reduction, mood improvement, and increased feelings of connectedness and well-being. Walk and talk therapy enables individuals to directly experience these advantages, establishing a deeper connection with the natural world.

It’s important to acknowledge that walk and talk therapy might not suit everyone or all therapeutic needs. Physical limitations might prevent certain individuals from participating, while others may prefer the privacy and structure of a conventional therapy setting.

Counselling Therapy sessions last 60 minutes, while Walk and Talk Therapy offers flexibility. You can opt for a full 60-minute walk or split the session into a 30-minute therapy office session and a 30-minute outdoor segment.

Our walk can be a leisurely stroll or a brisker pace, depending on your preference.

Please note: Weather conditions permitting.

In 2017 I was interviewed by Business Insider…post Covid I think we need to revisit these issues.

Read the original article on Business Insider Australia. Copyright 2017. Follow Business Insider Australia on Twitter.

  • When you’ve reached a peak point of your career but don’t know how to move forward, you’re on a “career ledge.”
  • It’s becoming more common amid rising expectations of universities and professional associations, high competition for graduate roles and increasing pressure on businesses to perform in the globalized economy.
  • It’s possible to inch yourself over the ledge, but you’ll have to make an effort.

While career burnout is a more common issue, “career ledging” is a lesser-known phenomenon but widespread across industries and roles.

“Many people are suffering from career ledging,” says Darleen Barton, corporate therapist, author, and founder and managing director of success consultancy businesses, DIPAC.

And while it is detrimental to the future success of a person’s career path, “very little is being done to address these issues and support workers on a national level,” according to Barton.

“Stuck on a career ledge is where a high achiever has reached a peak point in their career or as I like to say ‘reached the top of their tree’ and they just don’t know how to move forward from where they are sitting,” says Barton. “Their ‘high achiever attributes’ have helped them get to where they are, but they don’t have the skill set to work out where to from there, or how to maintain the momentum at that peak level. High achievers stuck on a career ledge often step into ‘self sabotage’ mode and become disruptive, even start quarrelling with colleagues.”

She continued: “Incidentally, I also use the term ‘glass ledge’ to describe the situation many women find themselves – when they are in senior roles and are constantly overlooked for CEO and board positions.”

Barton explains that career ledging is becoming more common amid rising expectations of universities and professional associations, high competition for graduate roles and increasing pressure on businesses to perform in the globalized economy.

In fact, Australian graduates are facing particularly tough conditions this year when it comes to landing their dream job with Adzuna estimating that 22 graduates will compete for every job opening in the months ahead. That’s a 22 to 1 chance.

To ensure the problem doesn’t manifest further, Barton says businesses have to “start with facing the facts”.

“Sometimes life can be hard enough, but with additional stress with long days in the same career/field of study, it can lead to extreme pressure and stress,” she says.

“The more open workplaces and society are about the toll that your work life may have on you individually, the easier individuals will find it to seek support, discuss their concerns and find ways to find guidance.

“Businesses need to take responsibility for their success and their people… [and] they need to evaluate the standards and expectations they have set for employees. Are these viable?

“Whilst progress is important, ensuring the stability, happiness and health of your team should be a top priority also. Acknowledge the hard work of staff, ensure you’re openly communicating with your team and offering initiatives that show personal support.

Most importantly, Barton says “invest in your people.”

“Research and ample data shows that businesses that invest in their people, retain their people and minimise turnover. Long-term clients like to deal with long-term staff.”

Barton says these strategies that can assist in bolstering leadership experience, profile growth and forming and expanding critical networks:

Consolidate external leadership experience

“This can be done in the form of board appointments and advisory roles.

“Many NFPs are always looking for dynamic, forward thinking and motivated board members to steer their organisations through growth. Many NFPs are connected with a large section of the community and the corporate sector.

“Board experience, whether it be NFP or corporate, is essential to building leadership experience.”

Connect with key networks and professional associations

“Find opportunities to participate in member panels, working groups, and other initiatives. This experience builds contacts, involves you in industry issues and develops your profile.”

Source opportunities to speak and develop your skills as a speaker and industry expert

“Whether it be through your alumni, business networks, or conference organisers, this helps to develop your profile and also fine tune your experience in speaking on issues of interest to your industry.”

Seek out mentors known for their willingness to support, nurture, assist and professionally develop

“Mentors play a key role in providing support, guidance and feedback – as well as becoming important referees.”

Ensure you’re in the right frame of mind

“Mindfulness is a key ingredient to personal success. We need to be in the right head space when managing ourselves, our career, our decisions and our life generally.

“Confidence is also a key part of this. Confidence is infectious – it breeds positive energy and gives others a sense of hope, action, progress and comfort. These things matter when meeting and liaising with others.

“Confident people leave a positive impression on others. If you are not confident in yourself, other people won’t be either. Give people a reason to be confident in you – be confident in yourself.”

Read the original article on Business Insider Australia. Copyright 2017. Follow Business Insider Australia on Twitter.

Hard to love people and the importance of boundaries

Exploring the Impact of Narcissism on Relationships & Boundaries

NB: Many people are unaware they display narcissistic traits until their behaviors are explored in therapy. Many people who have come through adversity ACE’s as a child may develop narcissistic traits as a means of emotional and physical survival.

I like to come from a place of understanding a person’s story before we place a label on them.

Let’s be clear there is a difference between Clinical Narcissism and Narcistic traits.

DSM narcissism is a clinical disorder; narcissistic traits are personality features; difference lies in severity and impairment.


Understanding the effects of narcissism in relationships is crucial for fostering healthy connections and maintaining emotional well-being.

Being in a relationship who displays Narcissistic strait can be very testing and would send anyone into a fight or flight state.

The following is intended to help with understanding and to help you set boundaries

  1. Narcissism Defined: Unravelling the Traits Narcissism is characterised by an excessive sense of self-importance, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. Individuals with narcissistic traits often display a grandiose view of themselves, seek attention and validation, and can struggle with genuine emotional connection.
  2. The Narcissistic Spectrum: From Healthy to Unhealthy Narcissism exists on a spectrum, ranging from healthy self-esteem to pathological narcissism. While a certain level of self-confidence is essential, the more extreme end of the spectrum can lead to toxic dynamics in relationships.
  3. Impact on Relationships: Challenges and Struggles Relationships involving a narcissistic partner can be riddled with challenges. These challenges include manipulation, emotional manipulation, lack of empathy, and a constant need for validation. Narcissistic partners may struggle with compromise and have difficulty recognising their own faults.
  4. Communication Breakdown: Empathy Deficit Empathy is a cornerstone of healthy relationships. Narcissistic traits often come with an empathy deficit, making it challenging for individuals to truly understand and connect with their partners’ emotions. This breakdown in communication can lead to misunderstandings and emotional distance.
  5. Gas Lighting and Manipulation: Twisting Reality Gas lighting, a tactic used by some narcissists, involves manipulating others into doubting their perception of reality. Partners subjected to gas lighting may question their own sanity, leading to feelings of confusion, anxiety, and self-doubt.
  6. Impact on Mental Health: Emotional Toll Being in a relationship with a narcissistic individual can take a toll on one’s mental health. Partners may experience anxiety, depression, and feelings of inadequacy due to the constant need for validation and the manipulation involved.
  7. Self-Care and Boundaries: Protecting Yourself If you find yourself in a relationship with a narcissistic partner, it’s essential to prioritise self-care and set healthy boundaries. Seeking support from friends, family, or a counsellor can provide valuable guidance and emotional validation.
  8. Seeking Change: The Possibility of Growth While addressing narcissistic traits in a partner can be challenging, some individuals are open to change. Therapy, particularly cognitive-behavioural approaches, can help individuals with narcissistic traits develop healthier relationship patterns and enhance their emotional intelligence.
  9. Moving Forward: Healing and Transformation Recognising the impact of narcissism on a relationship is the first step toward healing and transformation. Whether it’s through couple’s therapy, individual counselling, or self-discovery, the journey toward healthier relationships begins with self-awareness.

In conclusion, understanding the effects of narcissism in relationships is vital for maintaining emotional well-being and fostering healthy connections. Recognising the signs, setting boundaries, and seeking support can empower individuals to navigate challenging dynamics and promote growth.

I am constantly being asked what are boundaries?

Examples of personal boundaries are

Personal boundaries are the limits and guidelines we set for ourselves in various aspects of our lives to ensure our well-being, protect our values, and establish healthy relationships. Here are some examples of personal boundaries in different areas:

  1. Physical Boundaries:
    • Not allowing anyone to touch you without your consent.
    • Choosing who you feel comfortable hugging or being physically close to.
    • Declining unwanted physical advances or gestures.
  2. Emotional Boundaries:
    • Sharing personal feelings and emotions with people you trust.
    • Refraining from discussing deeply personal issues with acquaintances or strangers.
    • Communicating when someone’s behaviour or comments have crossed an emotional boundary.
  3. Time Boundaries:
    • Allocating specific time for work, rest, and leisure activities.
    • Politely declining invitations or commitments when your schedule is already full.
    • Setting aside personal time for self-care and relaxation.
  4. Social Boundaries:
    • Choosing the types of social events you attend based on your comfort level.
    • Limiting interactions with individuals who consistently disrespect your values or boundaries.
    • Deciding who you share your personal information within social settings.
  5. Material Boundaries:
    • Lending personal belongings only to people you trust to return them in good condition.
    • Saying no to lending money when you are uncomfortable or unable to do so.
    • Setting limits on sharing resources with others to ensure your own needs are met.
  6. Digital Boundaries:
    • Choosing who you connect with on social media platforms.
    • Limiting the personal information, you share online to protect your privacy.
    • Unplugging from digital devices during specific times to focus on other activities.
  7. Work Boundaries:
    • Communicating your availability for work-related tasks outside of regular working hours.
    • Declining work assignments that exceed your capacity to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
    • Setting limits on communication with colleagues or clients during your personal time.
  8. Relationship Boundaries:
    • Expressing your needs and expectations in a romantic relationship.
    • Defining the level of emotional support, you can provide to friends without becoming overwhelmed.
    • Communicating deal-breakers and non-negotiables in any type of relationship.
  9. Communication Boundaries:
    • Communicating openly and honestly while respecting others’ feelings.
    • Refraining from using hurtful language or making disrespectful comments.
    • Setting limits on how much personal information you’re comfortable sharing in conversation.

Please remember that personal boundaries may vary based on individual preferences, cultural norms, and personal experiences. It’s important to communicate your boundaries clearly and assertively, and to respect the boundaries of others as well. Healthy boundaries contribute to positive relationships and overall well-being.