Archives for Family

Addictive Relating

3 Basics of Working (Mindfully) with a Narcissist in Therapy: A Balancing Act, 1 of 5

In response to a recent post, How to Identify a Narcissist in Therapy, several readers requested a follow up post that outlines a few essentials of working with a client who presents with narcissistic "tendencies" or npd (narcissistic personality disorder) in couples or family therapy, so as to disarm or minimize the potentially destabilizing effects of these problematic behaviors both in the sessions themselves -- and on therapeutic processes and outcomes in general. Other readers also wanted to know...
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Addictive Relating

How to Identify a Narcissist In Family or Couples Counseling

How does a therapist identify a narcissist in therapy? In general, a therapist "knows" because of how much time and energy it takes to manage simple therapy processes. They come dictating the terms; letting you know they need to be in control, and want things done "their" way. 

And, if you're in family or couples counseling, how does a family member recognize them? How about you? Do you display narcissistic tendencies in a therapy session?

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Addictive Relating

5 Steps to Break a Habit of Arguing With Your Child, 2 of 3

Part 1 outlined five reasons why "arguing" with your children as a parent is a lose-lose proposition. Nobody wins, and you instead risk losing serious ground in terms of the effects on the relationship between you and your child. In human terms, it's safe to say that, based on the latest findings on the brain, attachment and neuroscience, key relationships intimately impact every aspect of human health and ongoing development, to include other relationships (, spouse, self, children that are siblings, etc.) in...
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Emotional Mastery

5 Reasons Why You Want to Avoid Arguing With Your Child, 1 of 3

Parenting is likely the most difficult job in the world. It's easy to get into fights that turn into parent-child power struggles. Regardless of the magnitude of an issue, however, whether it's a relatively minor one of brushing teeth or bigger ones over homework and curfews, there are several reasons parents want to pause and consider before getting into arguments - in fact, it's best to avoid them altogether (like a plague).

Let me clarify. This does not mean to allow children to do what they want; parents are responsible to fulfill, and not abdicate, their role as leaders. There is a clear difference, however, between dealing with disagreements in your parent roles of teacher, mentor and guide, and habitual patterns of dismissing, talking over one another, and attack-counter attack interactions.

There are at least five reasons to (seriously) consider before arguing with your child (or spouse for that matter).
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Addictive Relating

A Gift Guaranteed to Improve Your Love Life — and Brain? Make Your Relationship a Criticism-Free Zone

Here's a gift to add to your list of what to get him/her on that special day, which is guaranteed to boost your brain's capacity to work for you, and at the same time improve your love relationship. There's one condition, however: Both of you must give this gift wholeheartedly to one another to experience its life energizing effects.

What is this gift? It's the gift of making your relationship a criticism-free zone. There's perhaps nothing as corrosive to your physical health as well as your love relationship than criticism, at least certain types.

To clarify, expressing what you like or don't like are not criticisms per se. It is healthy to make descriptive observations of a problem, explore what actions or habits work or do not work, make suggestions or requests for something you'd like to see happen or stop occurring, and the like, for example. All of these, potentially, are relationship building actions.

In contrast, criticisms are detrimental to your health and relationship specifically because they are attempts to resolve issues through the use of words that attack or judge or label a partner's character in derogatory ways. What we're talking about here are words or phrases, such as shame-, guilt- or fear-inducing statements, which are purposefully designed to get the other to change or stop a certain behavior -- in other words, to give you the love you need, etc. They are also widespread because they consist of parenting practices most of us experienced as children.

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Addictive Relating

The Latest on Healthy, Long-Lasting Relationships? Three Types of Responses to Bids for Connection, 2 of 2

Advances in neuroscience inform us that our brains are social in nature, and that, as a species, we’re continually affecting one another’s mental and emotional states of mind and body. This is just one of the findings reported by cofounders of brain-based therapy, Drs. John Arden and Lloyd Linfor in the January/February 2010 publication of Psychotherapy Networker. “ In their words,
We write ‘brain’ as a singular, but in a real sense there’s no such thing as one, single brain—only brains and nervous systems in some sort of relationship to one another.
As discussed in Part 1, decades of research by Drs. John and Julie Gottman indicate that the longevity and happiness of a love relationship can be predicted with 97% accuracy, for couples in which both partners practiced habits of generosity and kindness toward the other. For the long haul, it takes two to tango.
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Addictive Relating

The Latest on Healthy, Long-Lasting Relationships? Both Partners Cultivate Two Key Traits, 1 of 2

It seems unfair. Of the many couples that get married each year, hoping to find lifelong companionship, lasting joy, friendship and fulfillment, only about 50% will stay married, and of those that do, the vast majority, about 70%, devolve into arrangements that are unsatisfying at best, and dysfunctional or even destructive at worst.

Cheer up, however. These trends are not necessarily bad news, at least not if you think of them as information regarding what works -- and doesn't -- to create healthy, vibrant couple relationships! They speak to key elements that relationships need -- must have -- to stay alive and thrive; and they also point to unrealistic yet prevailing expectations that need to be identified, let go of and replaced. Why? Expectations are life shaping agents. If they form thoughts, beliefs and behaviors that limit the capacity of men and women to nourish and strengthen their love relationship, they are set ups for failure.
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Conscious Lifestyle

Couple Communications: 5 Prerequisites to Unlock Your Imagination (And Get Out of Stuck Places), 2 of 5

Yes, resolving conflict is a worthy goal, and understanding "the problem" is also important. The biggest obstacles in couple communications, however, more often have to do with unlocking the heart and imagination of each partner to want to hear or listen to what the other says, to want to understand where each is coming from, and so on.

As discussed in Part 1, what you “see” subconsciously in your mind when you think of your partner and your relationship, or your "discussions" for that matter, may just be what you get.

There are are at least five prerequisites to unlocking your hearts -- and subconscious minds -- to break free of images and mindsets that keep each of you locked in reactive patterns, defensive showdowns, and the like.
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Conscious Lifestyle

The Relationship Building Power of Empathy: Seven Actions of Empathic Listeners, 3 of 3

Empathy empowers grace and harmony in our lives and relationships.

Without empathy, we're not connected to the otherwise amazing inner resources available to help us restore or keep our connection to built-in capacities to think and feel, and, when necessary, to shift to optimal thoughts and feelings, imagine new possibilities, transform fears, make optimal choices, and ultimately grow wiser learning from our mistakes.

It is in empathic relationships that we learn to feel safe enough to compassionately connect with what is going on inside of us -- rather than run away or react aggressively -- when we feel triggered or stressed.

Part 1 outlined key intentions underlying empathy, and Part 2 listed three of seven actions that naturally flow from seeking to genuinely connect with another human being at deeper levels. Here are the remaining four:
4. Seek to understand (other) before being understood. 
This allows you to focus your attention on listening to understand the other's heart with compassion (as you'd likely wish if you were them). In this place, you are present in mind and body, and are seeking what is in the highest interest of both, ultimately, to grow your compassion for your self and the other as human beings.
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Couples Communication

7 Rules to Protect Your Children from Marital Conflict

Healthy parenting nurtures children. A parent’s nurturing presence provides the emotional connection that not only helps strengthen the parent-child relationship, but also teaches the child how to regulate his or her emotions. Since conflict between parents is inevitable, it’s important to note a few rules parents can use to protect their children from marital issues.
If you want your children to be confident, stand up for and respect themselves, they need to learn how to ask to be treated with dignity and respect, and to learn to respect themselves, and to do so in the context of the family they grow up in formative years of their lives. Respect here does not mean obedience, it means mutual and unconditional respect for self and other as human beings. In other words, if your children had the cognitive and affective development of an adult (and they won’t until they’re about 25 years of age), and they wrote you a letter, they would say something like the following:
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