Clients sometimes describe themselves as a peacemaker and, as we continue talking, I learn about their family dynamics, their particular role in the family and the messages they learned about conflict.
I think wanting to be a peacemaker is admirable. In a time when it feels like we are constantly guarding ourselves waiting for the next conflict or sudden outburst... in traffic, in public, at work, in schools, in homes... knowing that someone out there wants to help maintain a sense of peace feels refreshing.
Wouldn't it feel great if you and your partner were connected and on the same team? Sadly, many couples don't feel this way or even check in with each other very much in the bustle of everyday life. It is so common for us to live paralleled lives with our spouse and not feel connected at all. Is that what your marriage feels like? If so, I want to start by saying that I understand and my heart breaks for you both.
What would happen if someone gave you permission to be imperfect? Would it feel like a weight has been lifted or would you find yourself wanting to push back out of fear of what imperfect means to you? As much as we work to be authentic in our lives and relationships, it can be really difficult to let go the idea of having to perform, having to get it right all the time... having to be perfect.
We are complex beings with hopes, dreams, fears, vulnerabilities, shame, goals, desires and longings. We want to be close to people, to feel connected, accepted, celebrated and loved. Interestingly, we tend to attach performance and/or perfection to those things... fearing that if we are not performing well or perfect, we will not feel accepted, celebrated or loved. How sad that we (many of us) have learned to weave those things together, as if our imperfections will threaten the unraveling of the entire tapestry of connection.
I sit with people in their moments of deep and scary vulnerability, gifted with the opportunity to hold space for them that allows for imperfection, stumbling over words, tears, frustrations and fear... absolutely no perfection or performance required. In fact, letting go of the need to perform allows for us to clarify and actively tend to areas that are most important to us. Our relationships with others, our relationship with ourselves, our relationship with God. I fully understand the fear of letting go of perfection... and the fear that if someone sees you in your mess you will feel disconnected and alone.
Give yourself the opportunity to show up fully in your life and in your relationships, without fear of having to perform perfectly. I think the start of 2019 presents an awesome opportunity for you to discover that new, perfection-free space. Rather than adding more tasks to your do-to list, additional goals that you'll let go of by February or rewriting the same resolutions over and over again... uncover and nurture the things that are already within you and in front of you! Perfection not required. :)
Have a wonderful, peaceful and safe new year!
As we venture into the holidays, you might be contemplating that perfect gift for your spouse or partner. It can be an a wonderful feeling to give your special person a gift that brings a smile to their face and joy to their heart. We love feeling connected in that moment like we got it right with them, even if only for that moment. Can you imagine feeling connected with your partner like that more often?
We think relationships are easy and, simply put, they're not. We think we are communicating clearly and we don't. We think our partner should be able to know what we need and they don't. There are so many elements to our dynamic that we aren't tapped into... things that are under the surface yet very much guiding our interactions with our partner. Even if you have an idea of those elements under the surface, you are likely not sharing them for fear that it will cause trouble or more distance.
Our weekend workshop for couples, called Hold Me Tight, offers a structured curriculum based on the model of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for Couples, a method that is considered the gold standard for marriage and relationship counseling. During each workshop we are blown away by the courage and willingness of couples to show up in a new way for their marriage or relationship. The workshop experience has been a game changer for many couples, bringing them to a place of feeling connected and safe in ways that had not yet before, or haven't felt with each other for a long time.
We are excited to release the date of our next weekend workshop: January 19th and 20th, 2019. If you are ready to give yourself and your partner the gift of a more connected relationship we would love to have you join us. Please see our workshop website at www.holdmetightknoxville.com for more information about the workshop and how to register. You are also welcome to contact me personally with any questions at (865) 384-2172 or through the contact page HERE.
I look forward to helping you connect!
It is interesting to me how much, as adults, we assume we know how to be in healthy committed relationships. We think it's a "no brainer" or "common sense" when, really, it is one of the most challenging things we will ever do. We are tested in all kinds of ways in our intimate relationship. We try over and over again to make things better using the same ol' skills and tricks we have been using for years and get frustrated when our partner isn't getting on our page.
Is any of this familiar?
If you weren't so ________ I wouldn't be _________!
Will you just "let it go?"
If you could just be more (or less) ________ we wouldn't BE in this situation!
Why is this coming up AGAIN?
Can you NOT be a jerk for once?
Why do you get so mad all the time?
What did I do now?
You say this EVERY single time!
You NEVER listen to me!
Why are you always on my case?
Don't you have anything to say?
I knew it... you don't really care about me.
Why is it always like this with you?
Every couple is challenged with escalated moments in their relationship from time to time and that is to be expected... we're human beings trying to love other human beings.
When it starts to feel like a problem
What becomes problematic is when these moments are happening more frequently than not and couples can't seem to find a way to get out. We get lost in those places when we are escalated and often find it hard to hear, see or understand our partner. Couples become stuck and, even when they know they love each other, still seem to not know where to go from there. When we are doing this over and over again, it can easily become exhausting for both partners... not because we stop caring but because we simply don't know what else to do.
Three key components
In Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for Couples, there are three key things that help serve as the foundation for an emotionally safe, healthy and connected relationship. These three things include:
If it helps, just remember "A.R.E."
Accessibility means that we are open to our partner approaching us and that we feel comfortable to move toward our partner with something. They let us know they are available to us and vice versa.
Responsiveness refers to answering the call. If my person moves toward me with something I will acknowledge their presence and respond. Likewise, when I call to my person, I feel confident that they will hear me and respond to my call.
Engagement is knowing that our person is interested and present with us. If I bring something to my person, I feel confident that they will engage in conversation with me and there will be dialogue. In turn, when my partner brings something to me, I will engage with them and tune into what is happening.
Take a personal inventory
When couples find themselves in a pattern of distress, it might be that something in the foundation of A.R.E. is lacking or missing. Take a look at your interactions with your partner and reflect... Am I offering A.R.E to him/her? What might I be doing or saying that would suggest I'm not Accessible, Responsive and/or Engaged with them?
At times when we are hurting, it can be really challenging to want to look at the ways we are showing up in the relationship. We become laser focused on what the other person is doing, or not doing, and how they are the problem. It goes without saying that relationships are a two-way street and there is likely something we are contributing to this cycle or pattern as well.
The more we can personally take inventory like this the sooner we can make adjustments and practice influencing positive change. If you find it is too difficult, it might be worth talking about with a professional third party (insert my smiling face here) to see what is happening in the dynamic that is contributing to feeling stuck and leaving you both unable to connect.
It's not about being perfect
Remember, whether you are doing this with a counselor or on your own at home, it is more important that you are intentionally trying to learn something new than whether you are "performing perfectly" or "getting it right." Most people respond positively when they see and feel their partner trying to grow, learn and find new ways to become close to them. It lets them know that they matter and are worth making an effort to do something different.
Have a wonderful afternoon!
Many people want to experience a better marriage and try many different things to make that happen on their own. Unfortunately, these tactics don't often work long term or provide any real healing to the relationship. Even when couples feel closer for a period of time, it seems like the same topics resurface over and over again... the very things you both thought were behind you.
Our weekend workshop for couples is based on a curriculum of Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples (EFT) an highly effective model of counseling used for couples in distress.
My experience with Emotionally Focused Therapy
I was introduced to Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples by a dear friend, and colleague, Dana Vince, about 6 years ago. Learning about EFT was life changing for me, as a professional therapist and as a married woman. Although I was pretty good at reading and meeting the needs of others (I mean, I am a therapist after all), I realized I had a difficult time expressing my needs (or really recognize that I had any at all - I was the "strong one" who didn't need anything but always ready to help others). Over time, I found myself becoming angry, lonely and confused.
My husband is an AMAZING man and, in my mind, I knew back then that he loved me, but it felt like we couldn't have been on more different pages. I couldn't quite put my finger on a specific cause to this distance but I definitely felt it was present. My heart was becoming hardened, I felt lonely and I found myself wondering if this was all there was to marriage. He was confused and frustrated, to say the least, and we seemed to just keep missing each other. This old cycle we had found ourselves in was ineffective and left us both frustrated, wondering what the heck was happening to us... we were acting in ways that didn't accurately represent who we are, our values or our love for each other.
Couples in our workshop
EFT is specifically designed to dig into these types of issues couples often experience. Our weekend workshops are offered for couples in committed relationships who desire to be closer. We have had couples join us who are dating, engaged, recently married and those married for years. Couples who have been through significant life experiences together yet look at each other and wonder what happened that led them to this place of feeling disconnected, lonely and frustrated.
It is your time to join us
Our next weekend workshop is taking place in just a few weeks, Aug. 25th and 26th. Over the course of two days, you and your partner will learn what is happening in your dynamic that leaves you feeling stuck, frustrated and lonely. You CAN experience better and enjoy your relationship in a way you might not think is possible right now. I can share this confidently through my own experiences and understanding of EFT, which is the model of counseling used as the foundation for our couples workshop.
Dana Vince and I co-facilitate the workshop together, with a genuine passion for helping couples find healing and rediscover each other in new, compassionate ways. The weekend is jam-packed with information, exercises and opportunities to receive help from experienced, trained EFT therapists. Although the environment and vibe of the weekend is casual, we get A LOT of work done. Dana and I have even said if every couple who starts marriage counseling could participate in a weekend workshop, they would have moved through about the first 5-6 sessions of marriage counseling. The workshop is THAT full of information... information that can begin transforming your marriage right now.
Register now for our next workshop
Registration is open now for the upcoming workshop August 25th and 26th in Knoxville. If you have any questions at all about the curriculum, what to expect, the fees or how to register, please contact me - I am happy to answer. Registration is done online through our workshop website www.holdmetightknoxville.com.
If you are on the fence at all, or wondering if this type of workshop would be helpful for your marriage, call me or use the contact page to reach out. We can talk through your situation briefly and see if this workshop might be able to help. We have had couples attend who were truly on the verge of leaving each other and making very significant decisions about their lives and family... couples who walked away from this workshop feeling hopeful, connected and positive about the changes to come.
You can read testimonials from past participants at the workshop website: www.holdmetightknoxville.com. There you can also read more about the workshop details and how to register. Call or reach me through the contact page if you have any questions. Register today to reserve your seats!
Have a wonderful day!
Don't spend another summer vacation going through the motions with your spouse or significant other. You spend money and time with hopes of having wonderful, connected moments with each other. However, sometimes it can feel like you're just going through the motions and you wonder it will ever be different. You don't necessarily want to leave but you want better than this... something that feels closer and more connected.
You can do this... learn what is happening that keeps you guys stuck and what you can do to move forward, move closer and start actually enjoying each other again. In fact, you can do this in as little as one weekend. I'm not saying that to get you to "buy in" to something... I'm saying it with sincere hope that you will give one of our workshops a chance. People who have participated walk away with a tremendous amount of information, insight and feelings of safety and connection that they have not feel with each other in a long time, if ever. Don't take it from me... read several testimonials from recent participants at www.holdmetightknoxville.com.
Our next workshop is coming up soon... August 25th and 26th. Registration is open now and we would love to have you join us!
You can read more about the workshop and registration process at:
Have a great Wednesday,
Join us! Our next group supervision sessions are scheduled for this coming Wednesday, June 13th. There is a midday session offered at 12pm and an evening session offered at 6pm. Group supervision is a time for clinicians who are in the process of becoming licensed (LPC/MHSP) to participate in case consultation, better understand licensure requirements, share resources, network with each other and discuss challenges and victories along the way!
You are welcome to join us if you are new to the licensure journey or well on your way to finishing. Group sessions are just $25 and each group session lasts one hour. You can come during your lunch break or right after work... light snacks, coffee and water are provided for groups.
If you are in the process of licensure as an LPC/MHSP, up to 50 hours of your total supervision can come from group. So, if you are needing to add supervision hours, or simply want to network and brainstorm with fellow clinicians, join us!
Do you have questions about the group... or about the licensure process in general? Feel free to contact me. I provide individual, dyadic and group supervision services for post-graduate clinicians pursuing the LPC/MHSP credential. Navigating this licensure journey can be confusing and overwhelming... but it doesn't have to be! Contact me to join a group or get started with individual supervision. I look forward to meeting you!
Enjoy your weekend,
Do you wonder what happened to the fun girl you used to be married to or the guy who used to give you all kinds of loving attention? You know, the one who now shuts you down when you try to talk or sleeps at the edges of the bed... yeah, that person.
There are conversations you could be having to help come closer but you're likely never going to have those at home. Not because either of you are incapable but simply because you don't know what they are and, even if you did, there's usually way too much tension and hurt present for anything to be heard or understood by either partner.
The Hold Me Tight© Workshop is a weekend workshop for couples who would like to learn why their dynamic feels off, no matter how much they try to fix it. Couples who want to learn how to be closer to each other and have more productive, meaningful conversations. The curriculum is based on the work of Dr. Sue Johnson, developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples.
Our next workshop is in just a couple of weeks on June 9th and 10th. We would love to have you join us!
For more details about the workshop, and to register, please visit
If you have any questions at all, please contact me (through the contact page HERE). My friend and colleague, Dana Vince, and I facilitate this workshop together in a casual environment that allows people to relax and focus on their relationship for two solid days. You will have our help, guidance and support through the entire weekend as you both learn new skills to help improve your marriage.
Both of you will walk away from the weekend with a LOT of powerful information and insight about your relationship. You will learn why all of your efforts to fix were not working before and, more importantly, you will both learn skills that will actually help you move closer to each other and become stronger as a couple.
Visit www.holdmetightknoxville.com for more information about the workshop, read testimonials of couples who have recently participated, and to find out about fees, location and more.
We look forward to meeting you!
Is it possible to improve the quality of your relationship in one weekend? YES... with the right information and guidance! Join us for our next Hold Me Tight couples weekend on April 7th and 8th. Early bird pricing for couples registered before March 24th!
Over the course of two days, you and your partner will discover what has been sabotaging your efforts of effective communication, how to move past seemingly impossible obstacles and learn how to turn toward each other in a healthy way. It is not a secret that relationships can feel hard. We get stuck in long-standing patterns with each other, have the same conversations over and over and start to feel hopeless that anything might change. We either keep fighting the good fight until we get too tired (and then what??) or just give up thinking, "I guess this is just marriage." You can have better!
The Hold Me Tight weekend is grounded in the work of Dr. Sue Johnson, the primary developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Her groundbreaking work with couples has turned the tables on traditional relationship counseling, getting beyond the basics of conflict resolution to the heart of what is really happening with couples who feel disconnected or in distress. We will be covering these concepts and giving you new information, new tools, guidance and opportunities to practice over the course of just two days.
Click HERE to learn more about the Hold Me Tight weekend workshop for couples. Our next workshop is being held April 7th and 8th in West Knoxville. We would love to have you join us! The atmosphere is relaxed and casual, yet focused and productive. We want couples to feel welcome and experience a great weekend that can change the course of their marriage!
Early registration discount is $500 per couple for those who register before March 24th! Click HERE to learn more about our upcoming workshop and to register!
Have a great Friday,
Licensed Professional Counselor
9219 Middlebrook Pike
Knoxville, TN 37931
I am also a contributing mental health writer at