Relationship problems are one of the most common reasons that people seek counseling. Struggles in our closest relationships can result in unhappiness, frustration, loneliness, depression, anxiety, and a sense of hopelessness and helplessness. Counseling can help you resolve the problems that trigger these feelings, providing you with skills to improve your relationships, or helping you make tough decisions about letting go of relationships that just aren’t working.
Research has shown that relationship struggles are a primary source of depression in both men and women. Lack of emotional closeness and intimacy, power struggles, communication problems, and conflicts about important issues like parenting or finances – these are the type of relationship struggles that drain the joy and vitality from our relationships and our lives, creating a sense of distance and sadness.
On an individual level, many people struggle to find a loving partnership, but feel that they “fail” time and time again. We may make poor choices in our partners; or find ourselves trapped in an unfulfilling, distant, or even abusive relationship, but not know how to let go and move on. Or perhaps we have been left or betrayed by somebody we loved and trusted, and are struggling with grief, pain and confusion, unable to heal and move forward.
Co-dependence is another problem that interferes with our ability to enjoy healthy relationships. In co-dependency, we sacrifice our sense of self and our own goals, values, and needs for a relationship that doesn’t meet our needs; and we may find ourselves trapped in a relationship with someone who ignores us, abandons us, mistreats us, or abuses alcohol or drugs.
Or, we may have a tendency to emotionally distance – the opposite of co-dependence. As emotional distancers, we are unable to really give ourselves to another person and experience the deep security of emotional closeness. Instead, we keep core parts of ourselves separate or hidden from others, even in our most important relationships. Emotional relationships may seem threatening or confusing, so we keep our distance through such means as intellectualizing, over-focusing on work, controlling behaviors, alcohol use, or some other activity that keeps us too busy or too distracted to make a deep connection with the people who love us.
Couples who are struggling with their relationship can seek couples or marriage counseling. But individuals can also seek help with their relationship struggles through individual counseling. Whether you are struggling with a particular relationship, or if you seem to keep hitting the same problems in relationship after relationship, counseling can help you clarify the problem, identify “what’s not working”, and help you find new behaviors and new strategies to build healthier, happier, closer relationships and to find the emotional closeness and security that you want.
I use Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT), a highly-effective evidence-based treatment approach, to help individuals resolve the relationship challenges that can lead to depression and other mental health difficulties. Interpersonal Psychotherapy focuses on four common relationship difficulties:
- Interpersonal conflicts – ongoing struggles about intimacy, money, parenting, lifestyle differences, family relationships, etc.
- Interpersonal role transitions – such as when changes occur in your life, and your relationship is struggling to adjust to the change. Examples include having a baby or adopting; relocating; blending families; returning to work, losing a job, or retiring from work; or the empty nest syndrome
- Unresolved grief, such as when a relationship ends, or a beloved person has died
- Interpersonal deficits, such as a lack of supportive relationships or a lack of relationship skills
If you’re struggling with a important relationship or feel unable to create the type of close, intimate relationship that you crave, counseling can help you make key changes for happier, more fulfilling relationships. Please call me at 503-545-6312 or email me today to schedule an appointment.