20 Aug

Let’s Talk About It: The Art of Communication

The art of communication seems like it should be a simple thing. As a counsellor however, this is one of the number one reasons people come in to see us.  In couples counselling it is a frequently sited goal, “we want to communicate better”.  Communication is something we do everyday and it happens when we book an appointment at the dentist or when we take on a new project at work.

Be A Good Listener

Effective communication starts at a very basic level.  Do you hear what the other person is saying? We have all been in a position that we end up in an interaction where the other person hasn’t heard us and they are just moving ahead and making assumptions

Don’t Make Assumptions

No matter how well you think you know someone or how long you have been in a relationship, you can never know what someone else is thinking.  This can come as a bit of a shock to some but humans are not always predictable. we can even surprise ourselves sometimes with an unexpected to reaction to a situation.

Ask questions if the information isn’t clear.

Instead of making assumptions, ask for clarification.  Check in with the person to be sure you understand.  You may not have all the information and it is important to get the facts.  Once armed with this information it makes our ability to communicate effectively much easier.

Observe for Non Verbal Messages

In other words, what aren’t they saying.  Look for body language such as tightly folded arms, clenched fist, eyes looking down, and facial expression.  Our non verbal messages tell us more than you might think.  If you are in a staff meeting during a big announcement, you will notice that each person is likely exhibiting this form of communication.  They may be relieved or perhaps they are wary of the change.

Say What You Mean

So you might think that you say what you mean but humans often talk around things.  Telling your partner that you are thirsty when they are headed to the kitchen is not the same as asking if they would mind bringing you a glass of water.

31 May

Should I End My Relationship? Or, What Happens in Couples Counseling?

Should I end my relationship?  This is a question that counselors get asked all of the time.  If you are going to see a counselor for couples counseling, here are a few things to know.

A counselor will not tell you what to do.

This may come as unexpected for some. We help you explore what is happening in your relationship and help you gain some insight and perspective.  Having a non biased, neutral person help you make connections that you may not see in the heat of the moment can be invaluable.

No one is to blame

Sounds like an old 80s song but let’s face it there are two in a relationship and when working on a relationship in counseling the road to creating trust, understanding and compassion for each other is not built on blame.

Set aside your agenda

Along the lines of of there is no one to blame, personal agendas need to be looked at to see how a mutual plan can be created.  You are creating a new “we” and the idea is that you turn towards each other and not against.

It takes two to make things right

Yes, you both have to put the work in to get the result you want.  The counselor will never work harder than you, it is your relationship and your life investment.  Each one of you brings something to the table, the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly. Own it, unpack it and move on to work on the relationship you would like to have.

As you gathered, couples counseling is not for the faint of heart.  It is difficult when two people hit a wall and bring in with them feelings such as anger, sorrow and vulnerability and lay it all out.  And no, we will not tell you whether you should end your relationship, that part is up to you.

10 Jul

Key Ingredients for a Healthy Relationship

What is the key to a healthy relationship?  Clients often ask counsellors about their personal relationships, making the assumption that we have perfect relationships.  We are all human and there is no perfect relationship but maintaining a healthy relationship is a solid counselling goal.


Respect each other’s opinions.  It is not unusual to find yourself in a relationship with someone who may look at life differently than you do.  Communicate with each other and find out what they think and why they hold that view.  Even if you still disagree, respect them as an individual and be open to having different views.  Different does not mean they are wrong.


Just know that there will be some challenging times in any relationship because it is part of life.  We may have disagreements, deaths, illness, job loss…honestly there will be too many things to count.  Humor can lighten the load and diffuse a situation.  Even the most serious times have room for a bit of humor.  Couples bond when they share laughter or an inside joke. A Time Health article suggests that couples who laugh together are happier and tend to have higher quality relationships.


Let’s face it, we all want to get our own way.  In a healthy relationship people learn to find a middle ground.  Look at all of the options and consider what might be possible.  Agree on a solution that you both can live with.  Problem solving together helps see another perspective and you will get to know each other even better.


A relationship doesn’t grow and thrive without some nurturing.  Be kind to each other and give back.  Day to day life can be repetitive and we can take each other for granted.  Pick up his favourite dessert after a tough day.  Surprise her with a note in her lunch bag.  Take a walk together and talk about your day.  Share one good thing that happened, don’t just talk about the negative things.


Value the person you are with. Being supportive and encouraging to each other is vital in creating a strong relationship. In a healthy relationship you not only value each other but you value your relationship. Encourage them in to pursue their own interest and be their biggest cheerleader in their journey.

Book a counselling appointment

We’ve touched on just a few components of a healthy relationship.  From time to time in a relationship we might need help.  A good time to book an appointment to see a counsellor is when you are feeling out of sync, disconnected or maybe you just want to keep nurturing your relationship to ensure it is growing and flourishing.  Call 905-684-5050 for an appointment.

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