Lisa T. Perry
M.Ed., LPC, CCMHC, CCTP, VMT-R
Do You Feel Stuck in Negative Relationship Patterns?
Whether you’re with your boss, coworker, friend, family member or partner, do you have difficulty asserting yourself and advocating for your needs? Have you found yourself saying “yes” when you want to say “no,” only to later feel resentful and frustrated with yourself and others? Maybe you often hold in what you really think and feel until you want to—or do—explode. You go over the conversations and wonder what you could have done or should have done instead. You wonder if you were actually clear—if you were actually heard. Maybe you have always struggled with communication in relationships and you just wish you could feel accepted and understood.
It may be that you have been single for a long time and wonder if it’s even possible for you to meet someone and spark a connection. Or, perhaps you find yourself in the same romantic relationship again and again, and you wonder why you attract and/or fall for partners that aren’t right for you. Do you have difficulty listening to your partner without getting all worked up? You start by thinking you are going to be patient, but you find yourself interrupting or getting upset after a few minutes in. Or, perhaps you wind up crying or walking away when you don’t know what to say anymore. You likely don’t know exactly how you got to this place again and find yourself asking whether you should end the relationship or just accept your partner for who he or she is. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, do you wonder if there’s something you just haven’t tried?
Struggling with relationship problems can feel overwhelming, defeating and lonely. Perhaps you feel irritated, tense, confused or sad most of the time, especially if it seems as though you just can’t connect the way others seem to. Do you wish you could feel empowered to stick to your boundaries and confident in how you conduct yourself in all areas of your life? Do you want to make a change and begin to foster the healthy, respectful, supportive personal and professional relationships you long for?
Many People Struggle to Make Lasting Connections
From work relationship issues to trouble in romantic relationships, we can fall into habits and ruts when it comes to how we relate to others. Sometimes, the struggles we face in the present have to do with our past experiences in relationship. For instance, what if you were raised in a family in which people did not talk about their feelings? If conflicts were typically avoided, you likely did not learn how to navigate difficult emotions or negotiate differences. Or, what if you came from a family in which everyone said exactly what he or she thought without any filter? You might find it difficult to connect with someone who is more reserved. Because each individual comes from a unique family with unique relationship dynamics, it’s easy to run into communication issues. We can also find ourselves locked in old cycles of communication that feel familiar, even if they don’t serve our relationship building efforts in the present.
To make matters more complicated, we are all in constant states of change, always learning new things and hopefully remaining open to new experiences. For instance, when we are young adults without children, we may wish to spend our time one way; when we are raising a family, we may wish to spend our time another. We are always evolving and rebalancing our resources, energies and needs, and when we are in relationship—whether with a coworker or loved one—the same is true for the other person. This takes skillful communication, an ability to see the world through the eyes of the other, creative problem solving and more.
No matter what kind of relationship you’re struggling with, you are not alone. It’s common to feel as though you can’t advocate for yourself or communicate your needs clearly. And, many of us feel frustrated and misunderstood, wondering if our relationship problems mean we’re “wrong” in some way. Luckily, with the help of a therapist who specializes in communication in relationships, you can develop a better understanding of your emotions and relationship patterns, unpack challenges blocking your way and begin to create balanced, harmonious relationships in all areas of your life.
Relationship Counseling Can Help You Communicate Clearly and Confidently
When it comes to interactions with others, the only factor you can truly control is yourself. Counseling can help you clarify your role in, and your reactions to, problematic relationship situations. In a safe, nonjudgmental environment, you can slow down, track concerning patterns of interaction and pinpoint where you are getting stuck. You can come to understand why certain situations bother you so much, so that you can learn to let it go or even change your automatic response to similar situations. And, you can rehearse different approaches to the very challenges that typically trip you up.
As we work together, I will help you develop a deeper understanding of the nuances of verbal and nonverbal communication in relationships. Whether intended or not, people will interpret your style of communicating in different ways. As you know, it often is not what you say but how you say it. This can be reflected in your tone of voice, how you gesture or how you engage personal space. As you come to better understand how others might perceive you, you can discover different ways of expressing your needs and feel more confident in the way you present yourself.
The same is true for how you react to others. You might discover that you are particularly sensitive to certain unintended or intended aspects of the other person’s communication style. From relationship counseling work, you can learn to spot some of automatic reactions and habitual ways of being that you might carry from earlier relationships. Understanding your own reactions will empower you to look at and respond to situations and emotions differently. You can create new options and write new stories. And, as you improve your relationship with yourself, you can relate better with others.
I have been counseling for over 25 years now, and through continuous education and practice, I have found it most helpful to draw from various treatment approaches. Depending upon your style preferences, assessed relationship building needs and comfort level, we could work more or less expressively, educationally, cognitively and/or experientially. Some like to express themselves more actively through writing, art, sound and/or movement. Others prefer to talk things through. You might prefer working with more private personal reflection methods. I will always check in with you to partner respectfully and productively in this regard.
Relationships are the stuff of life. With relationship help, it is possible for you to learn how to “right” things that have gone wrong, and to more deftly navigate conflict in the future. It is possible for you to feel accepted, understood and loved, and to help others feel the same.
You may have questions or concerns about relationship therapy…
If I’m having problems in my relationship(s), how will coming in alone help?
Many people find that sorting out their thoughts and feelings in privacy is very useful. In one-on-one sessions, we get a chance to identify more clearly what we are thinking and feeling, as well as all the influences that we are reacting to, without worrying about someone else’s reactions at the time. It can take a lot of energy just to sit with our thoughts and feelings. It’s so valuable to have a chance to think through your wishes, fears, needs, preferences and the pros and cons of your actions with an understanding, skilled, nonbiased party. Therapy is time for you.
If I attend relationship counseling, will you tell me to end my relationship with my partner, friend, family member or other loved one?
I will not tell you what to do, and I will not judge you. If your goals include items that I cannot support or help you with, I will let you know about that in an upfront way. If I believe that you are in danger, I will recommend that you consult with someone who can help you protect yourself if needed. No one is perfect, and I know the expressing concerns and seeking relationship help does not mean you want (or need) to cut this person out of your life. In fact, quite often, we can learn a lot about ourselves from how we manage ourselves while within a challenging relationship. All said, it is important that I hear and understand what you are seeking from counseling and that we proceed from there.
Will you judge me for how I have behaved in relationship?
We all make mistakes, can become overwhelmed and do or say things that we regret later. Relationship therapy is a confidential, private space for this very reason. We don’t tend to learn and grow through shame and blame. In fact, these things tend to shut us down. I hope to be with you in such a way that allows you to be as honest—with yourself and with me—as possible. I can help you see the internal critic and ask this critic to take a seat for the moment—while the other parts of you get a chance to sort things out.
You Can Connect With Others—And Yourself
I invite you to call (828) 575-3073 for a free, 15-minute phone consultation. We can talk through any questions you might have about relationship counseling in Asheville, NC.