Clinical Psychology Seattle

Build healthy relationships

Relationships don’t seem to last like they used to, or so it appears. But the problem may be that few of us have good role models to illustrate what a healthy relationship looks like, or how it operates. Few of us have the skills necessary to identify and handle conflict successfully. We have expectations of what we and the other people in our lives should do and we frequently say and do things which we later regret, things that are hurtful to our loved ones and to ourselves.

We can also end up re-creating the patterns of our parents or early caretakers – even if we don’t like those patterns or swore we’d never repeat them when we became adults. It is common for people to have a “shopping list” of qualities we seek in a partner or mate (or parent or child or boss . . .) and we spend an enormous amount of energy seeking a person who meets this list, or demanding that someone meet these expectations. Unfortunately, we don’t have any real control over what others do, so this is an endeavor which often fails.

Therapy is a place to look at your relationships and identify the obstacles to healthy communication and interaction. Once those obstacles are identified, therapy can become the place to begin making actual changes, trying out new ways of relating and seeing how they turn out. Therapy is a place to change your focus from what you want others to be to deciding how you want to be – even if the other people in your life make it difficult.

Do you want to be supportive, caring, warm and loving? Do you want to be an open and skillful communicator? Do you want to have control over your emotions rather than your emotions seeming like they control you? Therapy is the place to determine the list of things you want to do and the ways you want to be in relationship. Once identified, therapy becomes the place where you set these new patterns into motion, and experience the change in your relationships that result from you being the kind of person you admire and respect.

Relationship enhancement can occur with individuals or with couples and partners. Couples therapy addresses all of the obstacles to healthy relationships, the roles and patterns that partners have taken on which are based on early experiences, as well as helping partners cope with and adjust to stressors and pressures within the relationship, such as one person’s job change, children or step-children, or relating to extended family.

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