Therapy When Life Sucks!  Individual & Couples Counselling

848 Fennell Ave E, Hamilton  /  call or text 905.484.3388

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  • Verbal Vomit. Something Meds Can't Fix

    You know how it goes. He ticks you off so much that you begin spewing vomit. Not literally.


    Verbal vomit (I use to call it verbal diarrhea) happens fast, forceful and usually with little to no regret during and often after the whole incident. You get all winded up over something that your partner did that totally ticks you off, that you turn around and you let 'em have it. You bring up everything in the past, everything that is going on now, and predictions for the future. Maybe something like this: "Why the heck did you get home so late without telling me!! Who do you think you are? Every friggin' weekend you go out and you care about nobody but your stupid self! The other day I asked you to simply put the laundry in the wash. You are too damn lazy to even do that! I have married a friggin' child! I am probably just wasting my breath because you will never grow up and be responsible!"


    This is a mild, watered-down version of Verbal Vomit.


    The frustration is valid. The individual points may actually be valid too. But this is a losing strategy of getting what you want.


    So, the winning strategy looks something like this:

    1. Use "I" statements. I need/I want/I feel. For example, "I felt hurt you not coming home tonight on time"


    2. Be Clear, Specific and Current. Be clear on what the issue is. Don't summarize it or group it into other behaviors. Talk about now, the current issue. Not what your partner has done over the past 35 years. Just today's stuff.


    3. Turn the complaint into a wish. For example, "I really wish when you say you will be home at a certain time, that you will be."


    We can go deeper into each of these 3 steps, but this is the basic start to turning the vomit into something a little more appealing to your partner. Remember, the end goal is to get what you want. Spewing crap all over your partner will likely not get you there. Using "I" statements, being current and turning your complaint into a wish will more likely turn a very bad moment into something more positive and productive.


    Go... give it a try.

  • 3 Steps To Rebuilding After An Affair

    One of the most damaging actions that can take place in a relationship is the destruction of trust. Affairs kills trust. There are a lot of resources out there on why people cheat. This blog isn't going to dive into that. Instead, let's look at how to rebuild trust after an affair. But important to know, trying to rebuild trust after an affair is hard and not always possible. Let's look now at the first 3 steps:


    1. hold yourself completely accountable! Which means, no excuses, no reasoning, no justifying, no making excuses and no minimizing. I will be honest with you by saying most couples that I have worked with after an affair breaks down on this very first step.

    2. acknowledge the hurt you have caused and show genuine remorse! Let's look up the definition of genuine remorse: "Remorse involves self-reproof, admitting one's own mistakes, and taking responsibility for your actions. It creates a sense of guilt and sorrow for hurting someone else, and leads to confession and true apology. It also moves the remorseful person to avoid doing the hurtful action again."

    3. answer the questions! This is a tough one, but in order to rebuild trust you must be willing to answer whatever questions your partner has, as often as your partner wants and whenever your partner asks (within reason). No attitude, no negative tone, no sighing and rolling of the eyes. If you want to rebuild trust, this is a must. I just don't see how it can be otherwise. So when your partner wants to know the details of when you cheated, with whom, how the events unfolded, were you in love, and all the other very uncomfortable questions, you need to stay focused. You can share with your partner that you are uncomfortable, but that cannot be an excuse to not answer.

    There are many steps to rebuilding trust. These are, in my opinion, the first three. I have seen couples rebuild trust and become a much happier couple, but only after they did the work.

  • We moved!

    I am excited to announce our new office location!  And I think clients will appreciate the new space too!

    Though I have enjoyed my time on Pearl Street, it was time to move.  My new space has more parking, wider streets, easy access to main roads and bus routes, waiting room, self-signin and is located within a multi-disciplinary building.

    The address of 848 Fennell Avenue East, up on the East Hamilton Mountain.  I am inside the Pathway to Healthy and Wealthy Living building, corner of Fennell and East 32nd Street.  Here you will find several options to improve your health and wealth.  Who doesn't need that?!  Services include massages, energy work, speech therapy, social work, homeopathic services, mortgages, lending and financial planning.  And of course, myself, relationship counselling.  (to learn more about the services offered here at Pathway to Healthy and Wealthy Living, click here.....)

    If you are thinking about making an appointment for counselling, there are many options.  You can call me, text me, email me or you can book yourself in by using the online calendar.  When you arrive to the office you will find on-site parking and street parking.  Just watch the signs for street parking, they alternate which side of the road you can park on.  Read carefully - it's pretty confusing!  Walk in through the main doors at the front.  When you enter, you will see a self signin i-pad on the left.  Kindly sign yourself in and have a seat.  When I am ready, I will come down to meet you.

    Your Inner SOULutions provides affordable and professional counselling to individuals and couples who are needing help in their relationships.  Interactive and solution focused.  Direct, no "lingo" approach.  

  • What I Need To Know About My Childhood Experiences

    When you think back to your time as a kid, you may not have the most positive memories of it.  The experiences we had as a kid has totally shaped us as an adult.  But not only that, if those experiences were negative, it can actually result in an earlier death.  Let me explain..

    Something called Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACE for short, is a tool used to help unleash some of the childhood experiences, or trauma.  The results of the ACE assessment opens up explanations of why we do things the way we do, and why we may think the way we think.  But more interestingly, there is a significant connection between negative childhood experiences and things like addictions, obesity, COPD and early death.

    ACE Pyramid

    If you look at this pyramid, you can see at the very bottom, the ACE.  This often occurs from birth to about age 12 or so.  If the ACE scoring is high, say 4+, there is a greater likelihood of social, emotional and/or cognitive impairment, which then leads to high risk behaviors (trouble with the law, addictions, etc).  And as that continues it may lead to diseases and disability which then results in an early death.  A lot of work has been done around this pyramid idea.  The numbers don't lie!  Adverse childhood experiences has a significant impact on us as an adult.

    In couples counselling, I often have couples fill out the ACE scoring assessment.  Knowledge is everything.  What do you know about your partner's childhood experiences?

  • Nobody Cares What You Think!

    "Nobody cares what you think!".  A statement I often use in my therapy office with clients.  I feel like I should explain.

    Husband comes home from work after a very rough day. He walks in and slams the door behind him.  Shouting, he says "I can't believe him!  He pulls me into his stupid office and tells me that if I am late one more time he will fire me!!"
    As the wife stands there watching her very disgruntled husband blow off steam, she has a choice to make.  An opportunity to add to the emotional deposit box of their marriage.  Or, an opportunity to criticize, say what they would have done themselves or try to solve their problem.
    This is what I call the 80-20 rule.  The conversation immediately following the husband blowing off steam like this needs to be divided into this 80-20 concept:  spend 80% of the time leaning in emotionally to where he is at, to empathize, to be on the same team in attacking the world.. and 20% of the time to suggest solutions.  I might add, 0 % of the time criticizing, or turning it around on you by saying what you would have done.  That is where my comment, "Nobody cares what you think" comes in.

    The husband, in this example, doesn't care what the wife thinks. He doesn't care what the wife would have done differently if the circumstances were switched.  The husband doesn't care about solutions.  What he wants & needs is the "80" part  of the 80-20 equation.  The leaning in.  The emotional connection.  An example of this would be:

    wife: "Really?!  He pulled you into his office and told you that?!  Unbelieveable!  What did you say to him? What did he say?  How did you manage to stay at work after he said all that stuff to you?!  You must have been so mad!"  

    See that?  The wife matched the husbands emotions.  At no time did she agree or disagree or offered any suggestions or criticism.  She matched his emotions and asked questions to better understand his emotions.  During this part, nobody cares what she is thinking.  He certainly doesn't.  

    Only after this connection is made does the wife then, if appropriate, offer possible solutions.  If the wife goes here too quick, then the emotional connection will not be made.  It has to be 80-20.


  • Something I Want All Husbands To Know

    Most of my inquiries come from the wives.  Not all, but a good 80%.  The other 20% are from the husbands.  And in my experience, by the time the husband does call inquiring about therapy, it's nearly too late.  The story frequently goes the same.. the wife has been asking for them to go to counselling for years, the husband says no because he feels like he can fix things on their own, and time goes by but they are in the exact same (or worse) position than they were back when the wife first suggested counselling.

    Husbands/Boyfriends/Male Partners:  when your partner first suggests the idea of going to counselling, go!

    Now, there are some key words that your wife may say.  If any of these sound familiar to you, alarm bells should be going off.  It means things are in trouble.  Take a look...

    If your wife says "I feel alone in this marriage" or "I don't feel emotionally connected", these are red flags!  This isn't something that just occured overnight or after a rough weekend.  This is probably something that has been going on for a very long time.  

    Coming to counselling doesn't have to be a year long process.  Many of the couples I work with have seen a significant improvement in their marriage after only a handful of sessions.  I doubt that you want her to feel alone.. so do something about it!

  • I Cleaned The Backyard But She Still Isn't Happy!

    You dug through the closet, found some old overalls, and headed outside to do some cleaning up around the house.  In your mind you are thinking how happy the wife will be.  "Oh she will love this!", right?

    Before you know it, you are greeted by the wife with a bunch of questions.  'Why did you put the old planters pots over there?" or even worse, she doesn't even notice what you did and instead she continues on with her regular routine.

    Frustrating indeed!

    I hear scenerios like this often in therapy.  We express love to our partner only to end up being rejected or ignored or unnoticed.  

    One of the most successful tools I have used with couples that I work with is the 5 Love Languages.  Knowing what your partners love language is, is crucial to emotional connection.  

    It is YOUR JOB to know your partners love language, and to speak it!  If their love language is Acts of Service, then it's your job as their partner to speak their language.

    Once couples understand this philosophy (and I have really simplied it for this very short blog!) they then can grow closer together, speaking a love language that their partner actually understands.  


  • 3 Pillars of Secure Functioning

    Okay, let's break down that title first:

    3 Pillars:  well, what I think of when I hear the word pillars is one of those old mansions or buildings I see in those small hidden-away towns.  Often times they use to be a hospital or clinic or some rich builders' home.  In the front there are huge pillars that looks like they are keeping the roof from collapsing.  The size and strength of them is recognizable right from the curb.  

    Secure Functioning:  secure = safe, predictable, reliable.  Functioning = every day life in a relationship

    So, 3 pillars of secure functioning, to me, means 3 strong and useful ways to ensure a safe and reliable relationship

    So, what are they?  Here it is:

    1. I am the top priority in YOUR life, and you are in MINE
    2. We make decisions TOGETHER
    3. We HELP each other feel better when distressed (even if we are the cause of it!)

    These 3 pillars of strength, safety, security and predictability is what holds up marriages during the good times and the bad.  Ensuring priorities are straight, respecting each others opinions and feelings when making decisions and being that person that your partner can rely on to help them feel better during stressful times.  

    I believe if any of these pillars are missing, your roof will come down.  Maybe not today.  But it will.

  • 3 Things To Do After A breakup

    Your long-term relationship with that guy just ended.  It was a horrible experience and you are so glad to be out of there!   On to the next one................  but wait!  Read this first!

    To minimize the risk of landing back into an unhealthy relationship, make sure you do these 3 things:

    1. Feel it!  Go through all the emotions.  You know, the anger and the crying and the self-doubting.  Do it all.  The break up is often compared to losing a loved one through death.  There is a healthy process that one must go through in order to heal.  So, go ahead and feel everything you feel.  
    2. Take ownership!  What was YOUR part in the breakdown?  How did YOU contribute to the falling apart of what was suppose to be a "match made in heaven"?  Write it down.  Got half a page?  Keep writing.  And write some more.  At the end, you should have 2...maybe 3 full pages (and no, not double or triple spaced!) of how your actions, or lack of action, played a part in the breakup.  This step is crucial.  Don't skip through it in one sitting.  This should be a lengthy process, perhaps taking 6 to 12 months or more to complete.  Yes, I am serious!
    3. Find the pattern!  This was likely NOT your first break up.  And, it is very likely that there is a pattern between this last one and the one before that, and the one before that.  What type of person do you seem to be attracted to?  And why?  What is it about YOU that attracts YOU to this type of relationship?  What are your expectations?  Your dreams?  And why is it that you have always sacraficed your expectations and dreams in order to feel love?  If you don't figure out this step, it is very likely that you will end up back in the same situation, just with a different guy.

    These 3 steps are healthy and proactive way to heal your wounds and get yourself back up, all dusted off, and ready to take on a more rewarding relationship.  These are 3 important steps.  Don't overlook it.  Don't think you are an exception.  Give yourself the time and space to move through these 3 healthy self-care steps.  I mean, 3 years after a break up is a healthy chunk of time to do the individual work for a happier, healthier you.

    Need help?  Give me a shout.  I enjoy working with couples with their relationships, marriages and post-relationships.  

  • Don't Play Ping-Pong With Your Wife!

    When we have a group of friends over at the house, out comes the ping pong table or the air hockey.  A few good hours of macho fun and celebratory remarks all leads to a lot of laughing and bonding.  

    Do you play ping pong with your wife? (or husband!)  I mean, ping pong without the table.  Rather, in your relationship.  Here, let me give you an example:

    Husband:  "Oh man, I had such a bad day at work today!"

    Wife:  "Oh yeah, me too!  The kids were just awful all day.  I am exhausted!"


    Wife:  "I really feel frustrated when I see clothes all over the floor"

    Husband:  "I know what you mean, you leave your dishes all over the living room"

    Ping-ponging, as I like to call it, is when emotions are shared from one partner to the other, followed by the other partner immediately sharing their emotions right back.  This can often go back and forth, just like playing ping-pong, where each person keeps taking a stab at the ball (or the emotion) without either of them "leaning in" and feeling their partners emotions.

    I think many of these ping-pong effects occur when one brings up an issue and the other person immediately becomes defensive.  This then causes individuals to feel unheard, disrespected and discredited.  

    Effective communication stiplulates that when one person is expressing, the other person needs to be listening, not planning a response.  This is hard to do, especially if you disagree.  That moment when your partner is expressing their feelings is not the time for you to agree or disagree.  Quite frankly, your opinion at that very moment doesn't really matter.  It's about listening and "leaning in emotionally" to your partner.  Try to feel what they feel.

    Leave the ping-ponging to the table and avoid using this in your marriage!