Healing disorganized attachment

If you’re struggling with a disorganized attachment style, you are torn between two or three different impulses in relationships. It feels chaotic inside, and it can get chaotic in your relationships.

Sometimes, people seem caring but then they seem to turn on you. For no reason that you can identify.

You are fine with acquaintances, but once a relationship gets deeper, you start feeling some internal chaos — like you don’t know whether to get way closer, to run away screaming, or to split the difference somehow!

You find yourself feeling like you’re going in two directions at once in the same relationship, and it’s exhausting for you (and maybe the other person!). It’s like wanting to floor the accelerator and pound on the brake of a car at the same time.

You are afraid to get close to people, afraid of the chaos this might unleash.

You have a vague sense of dread in relationships. You may not be able to identify quite what this is all about, but somehow, it feels like you aren’t really safe with others. You can’t settle.

You feel out of control of your own feelings, impulses, and behavior.

You alternate between trying to avoid someone and wanting to be very close to them, and you often don’t know what’s governing these cycles of closeness and distance.

You say things that other people find to be inconsistent. Like you ask for help, but then if help comes, it doesn’t feel safe, or good, or like what you asked for. Maybe others find you hard to please.

You sometimes feel like giving up on yourself, or giving up on relationships. But you have intense yearning at the very same time.

You feel stuck in your relationships, and if you’re in therapy, often feel stuck there — like you, your therapist, or both of you, are being too difficult!

Relationships feel like a landmine.

And yet, you need relationships.

You want to be close. (We all do!) When closeness stirs up memories of abandonment or hurt, though, it’s like your body starts doing something else. It’s as if you move toward and away from relationships at the same time.

Connection has gotten entangled with hurt. With fear. With rage. With desolation. With desperation. With conflict.

This is understandable.

This is what happens when the people who were supposed to take care of you, listen to you, and keep you safe were also the people who walked away from you, couldn’t listen, or were the source of hurt.

As children, we can’t just walk away

When we’re young, we don’t have the option to look at our parents and say, “This isn’t working out well. I think I’ll find parents who are a better match for my needs.”

We have to connect to them. Even when it’s scary. Even when it’s confusing. Even when it hurts. 

But, when we’re being hurt — physically, emotionally, or spiritually — we also have other impulses, to flee or to fight. Our self-protective impulses kick in.

These are good impulses. But they aren’t safe to employ with caregivers who are bigger and more powerful, than the moment, than you are. You end up with suppressed rage, an urge to run but nowhere to go —

And  yet still, the yearning for connection.

Often, this all gets so confusing that you freeze up — it’s like you don’t feel safe coming toward your caregivers, but there’s nowhere to go. You can’t fight. But it doesn’t feel safe to connect either.

As an adult, you feel like these same binds keep playing in your relationships over and over again. You may sometimes feel like you’re insane, and other times feel like the  whole world’s gone mad!

Things just don’t seem stable, or safe.

You just can’t get comfortable.

Someone feels great to be around one moment, and terrifying the next.

It’s like everything keeps getting flipped upside down in your mind, in your world.

It doesn’t seem to make sense.

Even when you’re with a partner, or a friend, or a therapist, who demonstrates that they care for you over and over again, and who never hurts you, sometimes you still can’t trust them. And, on a deeper level, you feel like you can’t trust yourself.

So what can be done?

When I see clients who have struggled with these binds, hope often starts to come in quite soon. A lot of this is that I get it about disorganized attachment, so from our very first session, we start to talk in an open way about yearnings, fears, yearnings towards and push-aways — and this opens up a safe space for all of the parts of you to come forward!

We also work, carefully, to help you through the traumatic reactions in your body — reactions to the “fear without solution” you experienced when you were small.

We notice empathically together what’s happening for you. For some clients, this is the first experience they’ve had of getting explicit compassion for their conflict within relationships. We start to notice what’s happening together, and what might happen next.

One client of mine and I started tracking a pattern together: She would feel connected in a session, like I was tracking her. She would start to share deeper things with me, to really start to kind of “land” — and then, all of a sudden, it was as if I couldn’t say anything right! The slightest shift in my tonality could be experienced as hurtful — and yet, it also didn’t feel safe for me to back off or be quieter to give her more room.

Knowing about this helped us both. We could talk, when she wasn’t in that fragile space, about what it might be about. We could connect, notice when she was feeling ready to dive deeper, and then check in with the part of her that might not feel safe to do that.

Therapy with disorganized attachment takes time. It takes delicacy! We both get to be human beings who make mistakes. One of the big things that heals is that I stick with you. We look carefully together at both the moments that feel great and the moments that don’t feel so good — and we find new experiences together. Experiences where you can come closer — and have your needs heard, met, seen, and understood. Experiences where you can have your terror understood, worked with, talked with directly, and soothed.

In this kind of therapy, you learn over time to be more compassionate with yourself. You learn to tolerate other people’s mistakes without them feeling so dangerous. You learn to notice what’s safe and what isn’t safe. You learn to draw toward people at a pace that’s safe for you.

We find together the moments where you connect in a secure, kind, well-boundaried way — and we notice this together! None of us are all one attachment style, so even though your relationships may have been fraught with significant conflict, there are still lovely moments that you have with people. You and I will have many great moments, and we’ll notice them together! We’ll notice what it’s like to come in my office and to just know that you’re welcome, or what it’s like to feel those tears of relief when your sense of urgent need is welcomed and understood.

We’ll work slowly and quickly, all at once!

Clients who do this deep work often report unexpected changes in their lives in a short time period: Sometimes, they feel an overall sense of increased calm. Sometimes, they find that they can take a nap when they’re tired and go to sleep at night, when this had been very difficult before.

Clients use words like “ease,” “safety,” “feeling welcome”.

Clients also use words like “relief” when they see and hear that I get them, and that we can work through the feelings that have been too hard to put to words — together.

Attachment wounds heal through relationships. So you and I work to build a relationship that feels safe enough, steady enough, good enough. (Not perfect, because no relationship is!).

If you’re dealing with wounds from this attachment style, please know that therapy can help. Even if it hasn’t helped before. Even if you’ve had your attachment dilemmas pathologized or you’ve been blamed before for your “faulty thinking” or your “poor communication.”

Once you work with a therapist who understands trauma and attachment wounds and knows how to work compassionately with them– well, it’s not necessarily smooth sailing. But it gets a heck of a lot easier!

Here are some therapies I highly recommend if you’re struggling with disorganized attachment types of struggles:

  1. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy. A therapy that helps you to feel safe, secure, and grounded in your own body, and helps you to learn to reach out in ways that feel safe. You learn lots of tools for self-soothing, you get help resolving traumatic reactions, and with a therapist who is a good match, you find new experiences in relationships. This therapy is compassionate, non-pathologizing, helps you to slow down and notice what’s happening within yourself moment to moment.
  2. AEDP – (Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy). A therapy that’s about developing a sense of safety with your therapist. A good AEDP therapist doesn’t just listen; she really engages and feels for you as you speak. AEDP therapists will help you to slow things down and to be mindful together of what’s happening within you. AEDP therapists say kind things, and then ask how you’re hearing those things — so that there’s lots and lots of space and permission to say, “I feel like it should feel good to hear that, but I actually feel scared…..” Or to say whatever it is that comes up in the moment. AEDP will help you notice what’s going on in yourself and in your relationships.
  3. Somatic Experiencing – Can help you to work through the intense feelings of overwhelm and shut-down in your body, and can help you to feel more empowered within yourself. SE can come as a huge relief for clients who “can’t talk about it,” because the therapist notices your breathing, your posture, and different motions you make, and helps you to find ways to feel better, stronger, and safer — often without any story needing to be attached at all!

The key thing is to find a therapist who “gets it” about disorganized attachment. Someone who you feel safe with who can help you to feel safe with yourself and connected with them. At a pace that feels right for you.

 

 

 

“Borderline Personality Disorder”

Clients who’ve been diagnosed as “borderline” often know very well what it feels like to be misunderstood, to feel abandoned by their treatment providers, and to feel confused by their own strong emotional reactions. There is true help for borderline personality disorder.

I see BPD as a big, long, agonized cry to have deep needs for connection and validation met. See my video on this:

Contact me if you’d like to learn more about the commitment it takes a therapist and a client to move through BPD symptoms and into healing. It’s work. And it’s worth it!

Looking for a way to counter splitting right away, and want a taste of how I conceptualize this stuff? Here’s my video on “How to Counter Splitting and Understand Relationship Triggers”:

Here’s a story that’s much like the stories of clients I’ve worked with.

She comes into me after abruptly leaving other therapies. She says those therapists started out okay (sometimes they even seemed wonderful.), but none of them really understood her in the end. . One therapist told her to “just quit being so emotional,” and another kicked her out of therapy after she showed up with cuts on her arms right after the therapist had tried to help her. 

She’s good at her job, but her home life feels impossible to manage. She locks herself in her room most of the time, and when she interacts with her husband at all, she very often screams at him.

She says she doesn’t know what comes over her, can’t seem to control these outbursts.

She’s attempted suicide multiple times, usually right after a boyfriend mentioned breaking up with her. She admits, with shame, that sometimes she’s even lied to keep a boyfriend from leaving. She would pretend to be pregnant or injured.

She’s lost most of her friends, and is afraid to reach out again. She feels like no one understands her, and why should they? She fears that if someone did understand her, they’d hate her just like she hates herself.

After our first session, she feels understood and starts to have an inkling that I won’t judge her. I talk straight with her early on, telling her that I know that I run the risk of her walking or running away, because she’s gotten so used to leaving before someone else can leave. I tell her that I sometimes make mistakes, and I will, at some point, probably inadvertently hurt her feelings. We discuss what we can do differently so that she can stay even when I don’t get everything right. And I help her to “pace” her sharing with me, and she learns that she can walk out of a session feeling good, feeling strong in herself. This is different from past therapy where she would sometimes blurt out so much information that she’d leave feeling raw with exposure and shame. She remarks on the feeling of safety she gets by knowing that I’ll encourage her to slow down her sharing if I see her getting overwhelmed.

In future sessions, I help her to focus on her body, on her sensations, and to build a sense of solidity and feeling grounded.

Throughout it all, we’re talking about her high sensitivity, how being so sensitive can feel like both blessing and curse. We do some guided imagery. We talk about some strategies she might use in her communications. And we help her to get in touch with a feeling of safety and confidence more easily.

Several weeks into therapy, she tells me that she’s quit screaming at her husband, and sometimes leaves her room and enjoys herself. We work more on other anxieties or anger she has.

Several months in, her life is looking much better and she’s gaining a sense of having options in how she acts.

Sometimes, she doesn’t feel like showing up to therapy. But because we made an agreement with each other, she shows up anyhow. We talk about what it’s like to run away, what it’s like to show up when she feels like running away, how difficult it can be for her to express her feelings directly. We talk about the things she’d like to tell me, the kinds of things she used to hide from saying by running away or hurting herself or raging. I ask, can she experiment with telling me openly how she feels, or maybe just a piece of it?

We together come to understand different pieces of herself, including a childlike part of herself who needs nurturing.

After getting in touch with herself more, she starts to explore other relationships. And to grieve the relationships she never enjoyed fully until now.

She starts to take up some hobbies she used to enjoy.

As therapy goes on, we walk together through the grief, rage, anger, and ultimately, sadness and sense of aloneness she’s experienced for so much of her life. This time, she feels like someone’s here with her, like she doesn’t have to endure these feelings alone anymore. With increased space to be herself and feel her feelings, she’s able to open up more with her husband as well.

She tells me, “I lost so much. I never knew that I could be like I am now. I thought I was evil inside. But now I feel beautiful. I understand why I did those things. But I don’t have to do them anymore.”

Sound good? Schedule your consultation with me here.

Some of the folks I’ve talked with who have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder were dismissed by therapists and loved ones — They may have been told that their reactions and their feelings were “just being borderline” — A devastating thing to hear if you are highly sensitive, as folks with BPD are.

You may have learned to discount your own emotions while feeling immense shame at being “different” — and sometimes feeling rage at people who don’t seem to understand you. Rage, shame, chaos, numbness — the despair can seem inescapable. But there are ways out.

So what does this diagnosis really mean?

You can find the objective criteria by looking up those characteristics, so I’m not going to rehash the dsm definition here.

I’m going to speak about what I’ve seen this mean for people I’ve worked with.

Marsha Linehan, who’s done research on borderline personality disorder, likens the emotional experience of having borderline personality disorder to what it might feel like physically to “live without skin” — the lightest touch or contact can feel unbearable.

It means that your feelings may alternate between numbness and rage.

It means that you can feel super close to someone one moment, and the next, wonder why you ever wanted to know them.

It means that you may have a fear of abandonment that is truly frightening, and that, when someone leaves, you may feel abject terror — which can lead you to doing and saying things that you later just don’t respect. And you wonder, “Why did I do that? Why do I push the people I love away?”

It may mean that you get into relationships with people you’re not sure if you even like. Or that you feel like you create a new identity for yourself around each new relationship. You blend and become what you perceive other people want — often very skillfully. You may be charming, empathic, and give endlessly to others or just become what you sense they want. And at the end of the day, you may go, “But who am I?”

You may have hurt yourself or done some very impulsive things. Sometimes, it may have been because you felt you had no other way to express your pain. Sometimes, it may have been because parts of you felt so numb, and doing something intense helped you to feel yourself and your body again.

Many people who have borderline traits or experiences have not had many experiences with compassion and help working their way through their keen sense of sensitivity. Helping folks with this diagnosis, in my experience, involves a few different things:

1. Helping you to calm any crisis in your life. Safety first!

So we will want to develop ways for you to get through the day, ways to help ensure that you’ll stick with therapy so that we can make real progress.

We’ll work on helping you to feel a sense of stability and safety.

And we’ll work on helping you to establish a commitment to therapy, because if we’re going to work together, we need to get our relationship expectations and any concerns about safety sorted out. Working through struggles that come up in the therapy relationship is one of the fastest ways to change, and to move into true healing that extends to your other relationships.

Because the potential for change through this relationship is so important, and because you might be used to walking away before that can happen, I also require that, once you choose to work with me, you pay for several sessions in advance. Why? Because I know that feelings that come up in therapy can be tough, and I know that, in the past, you may have learned to walk away when you feared someone else would. You’ve likely abandoned yourself and your feelings so many times that it’s become automatic. We break that cycle in therapy right away by establishing a commitment.

2. Helping you to develop a sense of self. That means that I want to help you to connect with who you really are. Sometimes, folks with intense feelings end up living lives that end up being run by the chaos of just trying to manage or get away from those feelings — but beneath any chaos you may be experiencing is a deeply sensitive person with deeply felt values. Good therapy can help you to get in touch with who you are so that you can have a sense of yourself in the midst of relationships, and so that you can live from a place of integrity and solidity.

Some folks come into therapy actually needing to work through the sense of trauma of being abandoned so many times by people who couldn’t understand and couldn’t stay around the chaos.

3. Helping you to learn ways to soothe yourself and calm your own feelings and your own body. You may have been dealing with so much feeling and so much chaos, and it may be that you’ve never learned how to comfort yourself, how to calm yourself down. If your brain is screaming, “Danger!” when it looks like someone is about to leave you or when someone does something to trigger that sensitivity, it’s hard to even function in day-to-day life. You need help to develop resiliency, and we can work on that through helping you to develop ways to notice your feelings and calm them. You may have spent so much time trying to stifle your emotions or to get someone else to understand you that you haven’t yet learned how to identify your emotions and soothe yourself. We can work with that until it’s second nature for you to realize your feelings and to reach out when that will work, and to learn to self-soothe too. (Lots of clients tell me that my compassion for them becomes an internal presence for them quite quickly — and how rewarding it is to self-soothe through feeling the presence of someone else who cares for them!)

4. Helping you to build a life worth living. “Building a Life Worth Living” is a phrase I’m borrowing from Marsha Linehan, who developed dialectical behavioral therapy. DBT offers lots of ways for you to ground, cope, and navigate complex feelings and relationships so that you can do the work of learning who you are and you can build a life that you love to wake up to every day. Some of my clients find that they need tools to cope with trauma and emotional flashbacks. I offer tools for those too.

5. Helping you to heal from trauma. Many “borderlines” grew up in homes where their feelings were denied. You may have been much more sensitive than your parents were, and they may not have known how to teach you how to handle those emotions and express them in useful ways. You may have heard, “Toughen up!”, or “Stop crying,” or, “Why do you have to make such a big deal out of nothing?”

That, in itself, is a deep trauma that struck at the core of who you were, so you may have developed a “tough veneer” to avoid looking like things mattered — but beneath that veneer is still so much feeling that you’re not sure how to stand it.

Other traumas include outright abuse — sexual, physical, verbal, spiritual. This can occur in families, but also out on the school playground, or in churches — or in dating relationships or marriage.

Another trauma is that of the “borderline” label, which, while it can put some pieces together, can also be done in ways that are damaging. I’ve heard stories of counselors who waved off someone’s intense pain as okay to overlook because it was “just borderline manipulation.” I will take you seriously, and we’ll identify together where and why any “manipulation” comes in and how we can be direct with one another.

There’s hope of deep healing of BPD traits!

Many of the folks I work with start out with traits of this disorder, and I like working with people who struggle in these ways. Progress is often much faster than they expect once they have a relationship with me and some tools they can put to use right away. Most often, people feel like I really understand them and respect them in the first session.

People with bpd can overcome these symptoms. And when they do, they get in touch with that sensitivity and richness that was always there, and embrace them as gifts and traits to nurture. And they live lives full of purpose, joy, and deep emotion.

If you want to explore the possibility of working together for that, schedule a consultation with me today.

 

Group counseling

Group Counseling

Most of the people who are looking for help and healing have one major thing in common: They’re longing for a solid sense of connection. Common questions in therapy touch on this:

  • How can I hang onto who I am when I feel criticized?
  • Why don’t I have better, deeper, richer relationships?
  • Do other people experience what I’m talking about? Do I make sense?
  • I keep ending up in the same relationship patterns — I keep becoming the caretaker, or getting too needy, or ending relationships or having people fade away: What the heck is going on?
  • How do I come to feel worthy of love and connection?
  • How do I keep an open heart without being taken advantage of?
  • How can  I depend on other people when I’ve had to depend on myself my whole life?
  • Why do I get so anxious around other people? Will this ever stop?

Group therapy offers you powerful answers to these questions and more, in the form of experiences. In group, people come together on purpose, and they work together to build a sense of connection. In the kind of group I lead, you’re welcome to show up with your struggles, your yearnings, and your fears. The group helps you to put this stuff out there, and to be heard and responded to with genuineness and warmth.

A safe place to try something new

Often, our relationships are held back by us not knowing what’s okay to say, and what we need to keep hidden. Or our relationships end up in patterns that feel familiar, and we don’t know another way to act. Clients who are feeling stuck in these ways often say things like this:

  • I want to get closer to other people, but I don’t know when and how to open up.
  • I want to set boundaries, but I’m afraid I’ll be too harsh and I’ll lose people in my life. I need to know what to say and how to do this!
  • I wish I could stop taking care of other people so much, but I don’t know how to interrupt the pattern of everyone coming to me with their problems. It’s like I’ve trained people not to ask me about myself! So what now?
  • People say I’m standoffish, or too nice, or too needy — but I don’t know quite what that means. What am I doing, and what can I do instead?

In group, you get to try new things. You get to try on new behaviors, and practice saying the things you haven’t said to people in your world. You get to ask questions: “How am I coming across? What do you think of what I just said? Why do I feel like everyone is pulling back from me right now? I feel unheard, and I don’t know what to do.” In group, we make space for these questions, we make space for their answers, and we make space for you to fill in the gaps in your relationship experiences. If you tend to people-please, we help you to set kind boundaries. If you tend to disconnect, we help you to reconnect. If you do something that people find off-putting, we not only help you to identify what that is — but we help you to do something else that better meets your need and other people’s need for connection.

In my groups, I’ve had the privilege of seeing the healing power of community. When people deliberately come together for the purpose of connecting, amazing things happen.

“How do I sign up?”

If the stuff I’m talking about sounds like something you’re looking for, please contact me on my “Meet with me” page. Just schedule a consultation for my group — the consultation is free. I will want to meet with you one on one a couple times before the group, so we can talk over what the group entails, and so I can learn about you and what you’re working on. I’ve heard from group members that feeling safe with me first helped them to feel much safer in the group, much sooner. When you know that I’m attentive to your concerns and that I am here to support you in the group, it helps things a lot. So sign up for a consultation on the work with me page, and we’ll get that process of safety building started. You may opt to work with me one on one for some time before joining a group, or we may meet just a few times and get you started in group quite soon. We can find out what works best for you, together.

“When, where, and what’s the fee?”

My group will be meeting at my office, on 260 SW Madison Avenue (across from Many Hands Trading), in downtown Corvallis. I’ll fill you in on the details of when we meet in your consultation. I bill for group sessions by the month, and my current fee is $225 per month. This is less than half the cost of individual therapy, but many clients say that they get huge results from group work – they feel more confident in their relationships, more open, more able to set boundaries, and they stop feeling alone.

Schedule your meeting to discuss my group right here.

I look forward to meeting you!

 

 

 

 

Abandonment depression

Pete Walker, author of “Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving,” has eloquently put into words what many clients with complex trauma feel deeply but can’t always put words to.

Emotional flashbacks to abandonment

Someone I’ve worked with used to call this abandonment depression “psychic death.” She described a place she went inside where no one was there for her. When she reached out for help, it was tinged with hopelessness and a “why even try.” She needed connection. But her body and her mind were already preparing for prolonged shut down.  She was in a flashback to early childhood or to babyhood, when care from the people around her was not at all certain.

Unfortunately, that flashback colored her communication, so that when she did reach out to people who were available for her, they couldn’t tell if she wanted their help or not! She was giving up before she’d even started.

And that makes sense. Because her abandonment flashback told her to just give up and expect the worst. It’s no wonder her requests were tinged with both passivity and anger—anger at herself for wanting something she was sure she couldn’t get, anger at others for not being there for her. It was a mess!

More powerful than you’d think

Often, clients are startled to be experiencing extreme distress when they feel that “other people have been through so much worse than me.” But being abandoned or ignored in times of distress, to our young selves, constitutes a big trauma.

This video of “the still-face experiment” shows what happens with a baby whose mom is usually present and attuned, but who goes still and unresponsive for just a minute. As you watch baby’s reactions you’ll see what I mean about trauma. Notice that the mom came back to the baby, and all is well. If you struggle with abandonment depression, there’s a place in you that got the feeling that no one would come to help you with these terrible emotions, the feeling that no one would take delight in you.

If you experience abandonment flashbacks, then you know these debilitating feelings of hopelessness, despair, and shame. I suspect that some people with social anxiety are actually anticipating abandonment or rejection, and experiencing panic to keep them from nearing what feels like the tortuous zone of potential rejection.

There’s no denying it

“So why does this hurt so much?” you may ask. “I’m an adult, right?” One client reasons, “It’s fine for me if not everyone likes me.” But her emotions tell her differently.

When she sees that look of indifference in a coworker’s eyes, she sinks so deeply into herself that she feels tranced for the rest of the day. Or she asks a friend out to eat, the friend isn’t available, and she wilts, despairing that anyone will ever want to spend time with her.

Attachment is as necessary as oxygen

When we’re little, proximity to our caretakers is life. We need to be attended to. We need our cries to be met with love and reassurance. We need people. It’s how we’re wired. It’s good that we need people.

When we have caretakers who, for whatever reason, weren’t around to adequately meet our needs, we skid into despair. It’s like a part of us freezes, gets stopped in time. This part shuts down. They can’t get their needs met. They can’t stop the sense of need. They panic. They shut down, because their needs for soothing aren’t being met and they don’t yet have the capacity to self-soothe. How could they? We learn how to soothe ourselves through being soothed by others.

As you saw in the video, when we need soothing and we can’t self-soothe, we protest. As babies, we cry and maybe scream. After protest, if no one still comes, we shut down. It’s like a part of us gives in to the inevitability of no help. No help ultimately means death. Our bodies are hard-wired to know this, to feel this. And to shut us down if they anticipate no end to the need, no comfort, no help.

Two stages of abandonment depression, and becoming stuck between the two.

When we anticipate that our needs may not be met:

  1. First we protest.
  2. Then we give up.

The “protest” stage

A person in protest may be called “needy” by others, and may hate herself for being so. Or she may be extremely demanding and perfectionistic, demanding that other people meet her needs just right.

One person I worked with was so demanding that his wife do everything just right that the wife was fed up. He acted as if he had a huge sense of entitlement. What turned out to be beneath this imperious surface was a child part that was terrified of the smallest hint of abandonment. So he protested loudly, repeatedly.

Unfortunately, if you’re stuck in protest, it’s like other people can’t do enough. Why is that? Because in this state, the sense of distress, or perhaps of imminent loss, is overwhelming. You get time with someone, you are given attention—but a part of you is afraid that they have to maintain their engagement through constant, active, ongoing, moment-by-moment management. If the crisis settles, the other person will begin to behave normally! Thus reducing the level of contact, and causing the panic to flare up again.

A part of you has taken up the role of fighting for your needs, and that has been very necessary. Unfortunately, this “fight part” keeps you from a true sense of safety in connection, a true sense of being able to settle down and relax when things are okay. This “fight part” can push people away from true connection with you as they scramble to meet your needs.

This is a tough place to be!

The good news is that, as you work through your abandonment fears with a caring-enough other person, your sense of panic and urgency will diminish, and you’ll find yourself more relaxed in your relationships.

The “shutdown” stage

If you’re protested and tried very hard to enlist people to be there for you, and you haven’t had your needs met adequately (or haven’t been able to notice they have), you go into a terrible shutdown place. There’s suppressed longing, and despair, maybe a bit of rage. The protest has stopped, and now you’re mostly numb. You may sleep a lot, or do escape activities. There’s a giving up on others and on yourself.

For some people, thoughts of suicide start hitting at this phase, or a sense of just overall despair.

Both phases at once

So in protest, we protest, sometimes furiously! In shut-down, we give up.

What happens if you get stuck between the two phases?

Well, you get passive-aggressive! Or you reach out in ways that are less than effective. The near certainty of abandonment that you feel makes you feel futile in reaching out, but a part of you is also telling you that you must try to get help.

When these two strategies duel, you end up asking for help in exasperating ways that preclude the possibility of someone else truly helping. (This is what I think might be often happening for people labeled with “borderline personality disorder,” displaying, as Marsha Linehan calls it, “active passivity.” They state their issues, but they also seem to refuse to move on their own behalf, to ask clearly and concisely for the help they need, or demand that their help take an outlandish or impossible form.

Well, why not? If you’re convinced nothing will help you anyway, why would you (and how could you) be precise in your request?

And once your helpers fail, and you’re all alone, then at least you’re on familiar ground.

Is abandonment depression a mental health diagnosis?

No, it is not. Depending on the details of how the person with abandonment depression behaves, it may look like:

  • A depressive disorder.
  • An anxiety disorder.
  • A dissociative disorder.
  • A personality disorder such as borderline personality disorder.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.

The reason to be aware of abandonment depression is that more targeted therapy is likely to be more effective.

Is there help for abandonment depression?

Abandonment depression is all about not really believing that help is possible. So from the heart of the abandonment depression, you might not believe me. And that’s okay.

There really is help, though. This really can change.

It’s hard to change this all by yourself. The antidote to abandonment isn’t self-help. The antidote to abandonment isn’t to do something in lonely isolation.

The antidote to abandonment is connection.

How do you connect when connecting is the whole problem?

By working with a therapist who does connection work or attachment work with people like you. This is a skill that some therapists have. Not most of them, but some.

Therapists who have been through these courses have received training in attachment/connection work:

  • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, year 2
  • Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP)
  • Lawrence Heller (The Neuroaffective Relational Model)
  • And others, who have taken a deep interest in this work. (Like me!)

 

Connection Survival Style: When longing is mixed with dread

A client walks into my office. She sits down, hunched over. Her face is pale. Her hands shake.

I say hi, and she says hello robotically almost, a fake smile covering her face. Then she looks down, away. Then stares at me, trying to keep eye contact. She’s heard, after all, that it’s only polite.

Her issues? They vary. People with the “connection survival style,” a phrase coined by Laurence Heller, often talk about a feeling of emptiness, and say, “I want to find out who I am.” Sometimes, they pride themselves on not needing anyone, but they are starting to feel twinges of longing, or they’re starting to develop a close relationship. Their sense of longing is becoming a fear, too, of being too much. Of losing their independence. Often, it’s a fear too old, too primal, to put into words.

She may have very well-rehearsed social skills. Or she may be huddled in her home most of the time, maybe spending most of her time with animals, or on nature trails. Whether she presents as sophisticated and poised or she presents as ill-at-ease, she’s likely dealing with the most fundamental of our emotional needs as an infant:

She didn’t get the level of connection she needed to really feel like she could be herself. She may not feel that she has a real self. She has been trying like mad to mirror others, in hopes that, by approximating the moves of connection, she’ll find her way in, find her way to being welcome.

At the same time, she’s terrified to reach out. Terrified to want. Terrified to connect.

Longing mingles with dread. Possibility and hope mingle with fear and despair.

She has a deep yearning for connection. But she fears connection too. Because it wasn’t dependable when she was young. Maybe her parents were ill, or preoccupied. Maybe they weren’t nice to her. Maybe they communicated to her, with their hurried way of tending to her young needs, that she was a burden.

Are you struggling with the connection survival style? Here are some indicators that you may be:

  • You feel like you don’t know who you really are.
  • You struggle with feelings of meaninglessness, emptiness.
  • You sometimes feel spacey, or like you’re floating, or disconnected somehow.
  • Other people feel foreign to you somehow, like you “don’t belong here”. Relationships don’t make intuitive sense. You don’t feel welcome or a part of things, no matter what. You may have learned lots of ways to compensate for this, but at heart, you feel like you’re acting somehow, going through the motions.
  • You experience unexplained fatigue, tension, and aches and pains.
  • You aren’t in touch with feelings of hunger and fullness. You may undereat or overeat, or forget to eat until painful hunger takes over, or until you’re physically weak.
  • You experience social anxiety.
  • You long for closeness to someone, but once you do get close, you get scared. Fear of abandonment creeps in, or anger at unmet needs, or you cycle between feeling exhilarated and disconnected.
  • You feel this underlying sense of dread in the pit of your stomach almost all. the. time. It may attach itself to different things happening in your life, but it seems wordless, sourceless, everpresent. Sometimes it’s a dull background feeling, and sometimes it almost overwhelms you.
  • You feel a lot of shame about wanting anything, about making yourself known, about speaking up — about many things. You may, deep down, feel ashamed for existing.

2 Subtypes of the connection style — or, in other ways, two common ways people escape the pain of their unmet connection needs:

  • Intellectualizing. You escape into the world of your thoughts.  If people ask you how you feel, you tell them what you think. If you start to feel something, you start working to think your way out of it. Maybe you analyze everything. Maybe people tell you you overthink things. When the longing in our hearts feels crushing, we go elsewhere: One place we can go to is the safe world of thinking. Maybe you’ve developed research skills, or hidden in the world of books. You probably have a great breadth of knowledge. But somehow, all that knowledge hasn’t brought you closer to knowing who you are.
  • Spiritualizing. If this is a way that you’ve worked to meet your connection needs, you are likely very sensitive to the spiritual world. While this is a gift and a resource, Laurence Heller also hypothesizes that you may be so skilled in picking up on spiritual things because it “has never felt safe to land on the planet.” Not feeling connected to people, you connect to God or spiritual beings instead.

Working with clients with the connection style is one of my favorite things. The fact that you are struggling with connection means that there are some basic unmet needs that go a long way back for you.

Here’s the good news:

We all have a fundamental need to connect, and we have the ability. You do too! The struggles you have just indicate that the need hasn’t been met for you. You didn’t get enough nurturing for you to quite land within your own body and your own experience.

Your shame isn’t based on a badness in you, even though it feels so deeply that way. It’s based on very young needs that went unmet. When those needs go unmet, we feel awful. If we feel awful for long enough, we start to give up hope, without being able to give up the need. If we give up the need, we start feeling that our need is bad. That we are unwelcome, unwanted, unlovable.

But that’s not the case. The case is that, for whatever reason, you didn’t get the nurturing you needed. Maybe you weren’t welcomed when you arrived on the planet, even, and so you didn’t get that basic message we all need when we’re born: “Hey, you’re here! And wow, you’re so delightful! Welcome to the family!” If you didn’t get that, you don’t feel welcome on the planet.

This can change. It takes time, it takes gentleness, and it takes patience. It takes a safe relationship. Some people find this through a pet, and then later on, they find a partner.

Some people find this first in therapy.

The connection survival style is a set of ways you learned to adapt, to survive, when your needs weren’t being met.

Now, the task is for you to connect to yourself, maybe for the first time. Sometimes, this starts with very simple things, like body awareness.

Often, we need a “safe enough other” in order to do this. A therapist who understands something about this survival style and how to work with your emotions, your body, your nervous system, and your spirituality — will have a good chance of helping you to navigate your way safely, gently, and gradually — into connection with yourself, and with others.

It’s beautiful work. Because the wounds of the connection survival style are preverbal, the therapy work we do around it is often difficult to put into words too.

But when people experience this work, they notice some things start to shift:

  • They start to feel a sense of safety, of welcome, first with me, and then with others.
  • They may notice changes in body temperature, like feeling warmer. Sometimes, they hadn’t noticed they felt cold! But the warmth, they notice.
  • They begin to notice and tend to their bodily signals, like hunger and tiredness.
  • They begin to reach out for connection with others, and to feel like it’s okay to do this!
  • They speak more easily. Some clients have told me that they had a throat constriction and that, in the course of this work, it loosens up.
  • They may even breathe more easily! When you’re unsure of yourself and your welcome, it can be like a trauma in your body. You may have tightened up, and you may be unconsciously holding your breath much of the time, or breathing shallowly. This work tends to help people to feel an openness in their chests, and to begin to breathe more deeply.
  • You feel settled, centered, calmer.
  • You start saying, “I would like….”, “I prefer….”, “I’m really feeling a longing for…..”
    And you can act on your wants and yearnings! Some clients say this gives their lives an organization that it’s never had before, that it’s like going from floating around waiting for things to happen to knowing what they want and feeling that, at least much of the time, they can make it happen.
  • Your shame diminishes, and as this happens, you get in touch with healthy anger. Anger helps you to set boundaries, to know when you’re not getting what you need, and to advocate for yourself.

The transformation in therapy with folks with the connection survival style is profound, as you can likely tell from this list.

This kind of work goes way beyond teaching you strategies or relationship skills. Clients who go through this work, and stay with it, say that they feel like they’ve finally come home. They say they feel like they know and like who they are.

They sometimes have difficulty putting into words how profound the changes are. But they do say that they can feel the shift in their bodies, in their emotions. Their loved ones say they too notice a deep difference.

You can experience profound shifts if you’re struggling with this style.

*This style and 3 others are explained in depth in Laurence Heller’s book, “Healing Developmental Trauma.” Laurence has offered a training called “NARM”, a method that combines Somatic Experiencing and relational work. Other people skilled in working with this style may have trainings like these:

-AEDP – Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy. An exquisite therapy model that lets you and your therapist develop a connection that feels good, safe, and right, and that can help to heal very young hurts.

-Internal Family Systems Therapy – Helps you to get to know and care for the different parts of yourself.

-Somatic Experiencing or Sensorimotor Psychotherapy – Both of these help you to release trauma that’s held in the body and in habitual postures. Somatic Experiencing tends to focus more on body sensations, whereas Sensorimotor Psychotherapy will more often focus directly on relational trauma and themes around connection.

The most important thing in finding a therapist is your own sense of safety and the sense that you want to develop a connection with that person. The therapist who is helpful to you may have none of these trainings, or some mix of them or similar ones!  I list these trainings because, if your therapy thus far hasn’t helped you, it might be time to find someone with focused knowledge in the area you’re struggling with. Hopefully, this list gives you a start in knowing what you might want to look for next!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hidden emotion that may be keeping you stuck

(This blog post is based on the work of Sheila Rubin and Bret Lyon, who offer therapy trainings in Berkeley California.)

There is an emotion that can instantly make us feel stuck and stupid.

Not only that, it can actually make us momenterily stupid!

This emotion can make other feelings hard to feel or resolve. It can hijack your thinking, your grieving, and your anger. It can take you into loops of hopelessness, helplessness, and an inability to move.

It can isolate you. It can prevent clarity. It can keep you in a cycle of blaming yourself and sometimes blaming others.

It can steal your energy and your sense of ability to move forward.

What is it?

It’s toxic shame.

Toxic shame is a sense of being unlovable, fundamentally flawed.

It’s an emotion, but it also acts as a trauma in the body. We need to work with both pieces of that in order to help you move forward.

Shame also is not healed through intellect, through advice-giving, through your friends and loved ones telling you that you’re wonderful, or through you taking on yet another self improvement project.

What can heal it?

A whole combination of things, actually! It isn’t usually done alone, though. One definition of shame is a “break in the interpersonal bridge” — in other words, it’s a feeling of disconnection from other people, from relationships. We can relate to each other in ways that help to rebuild that bridge to yourself and to other people.

 

 

 

Toxic Shame, the Trance of Unworthiness

Toxic Shame: Tara Brach calls this shame a “Trance of unworthiness.” It’s increasingly being recognized as a legacy of relational trauma, and one that often isn’t identified as such. Toxic shame is an emotional flashback that feels like a truth. Not only is it a memory, it can get to feel like a necessary feeling, something that helps us avoid feeling devastated by rejection. It’s complicated, but it can be worked through. To make how it develops clear, let’s start by picturing a child, perhaps a little girl.

She, like all children, has a need to reach out to her parents. She has a need to express herself and to have people hear and accept her. She needs to be heard and met often enough that she gets the message over and over again, “Hey, you’re pretty cool! You are a member of our family. We love you. Your desires are acceptable. Your hugs are delightful. Your stories, your laughter, your tears, and your interests matter to us.” These messages are messages this little girl needs to get daily. No parent is perfect, and no child needs a parent who responds with 100 percent affection and attention all the time. But this little girl needs these to occur often enough that she really gets the message, “I am okay.”

Now, say that this little girl has parents who are busy, preoccupied with their jobs, or with another child. Or that one or both of her parents grew up in homes where they themselves weren’t validated and met. Something goes terribly, terribly wrong in this little girl’s environment. It happens on a daily basis, in little ways that make a huge hole in her heart over time. She says, “Hey, look what I can do!” And her mom says, “Can’t you see I’m busy right now?”

Later the same day, she comes to Mommy to give her a hug. And mom says, “You made a big mess in the living room, and you need to clean it up.”

This little girl is in a bind, big time. She needs her parents. When they push her away, or criticize her, her mind and body get messages that are unbearably painful. She learns:

  • I have to be perfect to be loved.
  • I am unlovable.
  • I am unworthy.
  • I’m not quite good enough.
  • My presence isn’t welcome.

Notice that none of the messages this girl takes in reflect on her parents’ inability or their issues. When we’re little, we are unable to reflect on the whole situation of those around us. If our reach isn’t reciprocated, we decide it’s about us.

Some children try desperately to be perfect, good enough, lovable enough.

Some children learn to pretend needlessness, having given up on getting care from those around them. Their shame endures underneath their facade of independence.

Some children alternate between reaching out and retreating deep inside into disconnection, distraction, escape.

Some children develop an inner critic that shames them and stops them from reaching out so that they won’t get hurt.

Children don’t have the option to leave. They don’t have the option to stop needing either, not really.

Children whose needs aren’t met, whatever their strategy is, grow up to be adults who still have a deep sense of shame and unlovability. They carry a deep feeling, a visceral one, that their reach cannot be met with love and acceptance. They carry a deep fear of being exiled.

This fear, this shame, carries different disguises. Some people who are mired in shame are very aware of their feeling of unworthiness. They have a fierce inner critic that reminds them, “Stay quiet. Stay small. Don’t reach out. You’re not good enough.”

Others carry the fear but aren’t consciously aware of it. They retreat from their feelings, or they blame others when things go wrong. They become masters at “prejection”: “I’ll reject you before you can reject me.”

Shame can be healed. It takes careful, gentle guidance to undo shame.

Shame lives in the body and the mind as a trauma. And an often unavowed one.

A person who is locked in this shame, this “Trance of unworthiness” (Thanks to Tara Brach for that phrase!), does not recognize that she is in a trance.

She has not identified the shame she feels as an imprint from long ago, from the heartache of a reach that went repeatedly unmet.

Further, shame is an emotion that exists within a childlike kind of tunnel vision. Shame is a sign, in other words, that we are still carrying the burden for people’s inability to meet our needs. And that we still have the childlike conception, “It’s all my fault, because I’m bad and worthless.”

Toxic shame like this leaves people frozen in a childlike state. Shame is an emotional memory of being rejected. But it doesn’t feel like a memory. It feels like the truth of who we are.

So let’s say that, in some way, you were this little girl. You now carry a sense of shame.

So how do we work with shame?

Here is a set of steps we can take:

  1. We calm our bodies and help counter the trauma response somatically. Here’s a tool to do that: Place one hand over your heart and another on your belly. This triggers a calming response in your body. As your hand is on your heart, call to your memory one experience of love and connection. Could be with a pet, or with a close friend, or a teacher. Pick one that’s solid, and let your body really sense into that feeling of love, safety, validation. Once those feelings are strong, breathe them in and out, with your hand over your heart. Let your body and mind take it in for 30 seconds. Linda Graham says,  “Doing the one-minute Hand on Heart exercise 5 times a day will actually begin to heal the heart and re-wire the brain.”
  2. We get mindful — Noticing body sensations (Start with positive or neutral ones!), emotions, thoughts. Name a thought as just a thought, a feeling as just a feeling. This will help you to get some distance from your shame.
  3. We get in touch with a sense of compassion. Self compassion can be a tough one when you’re dealing with a sense of shame. So don’t start with yourself. Start with a sense of compassion toward someone else in your life. And experiment with turning that sense of compassion inward. If you can do this even a little bit, it will help
  4. Let that feeling of shame within you meet the feeling of compassion. When you let the experience of love touch that experience of shame, the experience of shame will begin to transform.

These are simple steps, but that doesn’t make them easy! Shame is a sense of disconnect from relationships, and hence from ourselves.

Hence, one of the most powerful ways to transform shame is in an accepting relationship.

If you have people in your life who support you, you may start bringing this sense of support into your heart with the hand on heart exercise, and bringing that feeling back to the part of you that feels that shame.

If the feeling of shame tends to keep taking over and making it difficult to take in loving feelings, from yourself or from others, it may be time to get help. No matter what your shame tells you, there is truly no shame in seeking support for yourself. With the right kind of support, you’ll feel and know for yourself very soon what I already know:

You are lovable.

You are worthy of connection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A step beyond “managing”

Knowing ways to manage your emotions is important.  It’s important  to have ways that you can settle yourself down, how good it is that you know how to distract from emotions when they get too strong.

But say that you’re like many of the clients I’ve worked with that have mastered this whole “distraction” thing. They have “managed” all their lives. They know how to stuff their emotions and needs. But something in their life throws their “management” off balance.

There’s a tragedy.

They’re abandoned by the person who they relied on for support.

They’re so tired that they can’t function well anymore.

Or some memories from the past start to break through.

Or their close relationships aren’t working.

Or they start to feel panicky and they don’t know why.

“Managing” isn’t working anymore. They want more out of life. They want the problems to stop. They want to be closer to people. They want to quit losing their friends or partners. Or they’re tired of giving to other people all the time, and they want to learn who they are — but they don’t know how to start to identify what they want under all those layers of distraction they’ve built up.

So here’s what we do together if you come see me:

1. We learn how you’ve been managing. We shore up that tool kit if you need more ways to do that. We find out exactly how you’ve been distracting and how you’ve been coping. We find out what those strategies have been doing for you. We might even practice them in session, and help you to manage your feelings deliberately. If you’ve always kinda numbed out or gone all intellectual when you’re about to feel something, I might encourage you to do that on purpose, and to notice what that does for you. And how you do it. And how it feels. And if you don’t love the strategy you have, I can help you find new ones.

2. We learn how to gently interrupt your distraction. So you start to have a feeling, but then say that your coping method of choice is to get very analytical. We will start to together notice when you’re doing that. And I might encourage you to come back to what was happening in you right before you started analyzing. Maybe it was grief, or anger, or a knot of fear. We come back, gently, to the stuff you’ve been distracting from. We find out a bit more about it. We find ways for you to start to tolerate that emotion so we can find out what it’s telling you.

Emotions can be telling you any number of things. They can be a clue to something unresolved from your past. They can be clues to something you want in your life now, but have been afraid to hope for. They can be clues to something that has been not quite right inside of you for some time, something that wants resolution. We start to use your emotions to create a map for who you are and where you want to be.

When your emotions are circular and overwhelming, we find ways to find out “the feeling beneath the feeling” so you can get true resolution and stop circling that same old block of that same old emotion.

When your emotion is unfamiliar, we get acquainted with it and learn what it’s telling you.

When your emotion signals a need or a want you have, we work together to learn how to meet it.

When your emotion is around unresolved pain, we resolve it. Piece by piece. Together. By feeling it bit by bit, by making sense of it, and by finding out what it says about who you are and what you need.

People often tell me that this stage of therapy is transformative, once they’re ready for it. This is where people learn that there’s so much more to life than “coping.” Energy frees up to do what they want. They start to notice what they want from their lives, and to go for it.

Their relationships become more genuine, more relaxed, more open.

They learn how to identify the emotions that are leading them somewhere good (even if the emotion is momentarily unpleasant), and how to stop the emotions that are old patterns that don’t get them anywhere. They start to feel when they’re being genuine, and to be able to return to that place of solidity inside.

When you know when to distract, and you also know how to face yourself, with all your pain and all your hurt and all your desires, things start changing inside you. And your life starts changing too.

 

Safety in Therapy: 4 things that help my clients, and can help you

When you’ve been betrayed and hurt by those you had to trust the most, trusting a therapist with your deepest feelings isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do!

And, even though you might know in your mind that you’re safe with your counselor, your feelings may be giving you entirely different signals!

Here are 6 things that my clients and I have done to build a sense of safety. Find the ones that resonate for you, and bring the ideas/techniques into your own therapy!

1. Honor the part of you that’s learned to be vigilant to potential safety concerns. I’ve learned that, when a client of mine has been betrayed, especially when it’s happened over and over again, that there’s usually a part of her that watches me pretty closely. That part sometimes might pressure a client to be late, to test boundaries in therapy, or to miss appointments. I always tell the client to honor the part of them that’s looking out for their safety. Once that part knows that I get that she’ll be watching me closely, we’re often able to work much better together. I invite a client’s protective parts to challenge me outright if they don’t like or are scared by something I say, do, or suggest. Some clients I’ve worked with say that one of the biggest changes they make in therapy is learning to listen to and appreciate the part of them that’s so watchful. It’s good that a part of you has learned to protect you and to watch out for you.

2. Let yourself pay close attention to what happens in session. When you’ve been through lots of bad stuff, it makes sense that, when you feel uncertain, you might automatically “zone out” or “check out” or feel disconnected from what’s happening for you. The problem is, if you disconnect from what’s really going on, it also makes it more likely that fearful parts of you will stay stuck in the past. In order to find out if it’s safe now, you need to take the risk of connecting, at least a bit, with what’s happening in the moment.

In order to do this, let yourself look around the therapist’s office. Notice anything on the walls. Look at the books on the bookshelf. Feel the floor or the rug under your feet. Let yourself notice the chair you’re sitting in. Letting yourself stop to notice what’s really happening will let your body get the signal that you’re safe. And, as it feels safe, notice your therapist’s reactions to you too. You may find a caring or a humor or something new there, something that helps you to feel safer if you let yourself notice it.  Cultivating this awareness of the present moment also help you to notice anything that makes you feel less than comfortable so you can speak up or get out of anything that’s not good for you!

3. Bring an object that helps you to feel safe. Some of my clients like to always bring a beverage. (I also have coffee, hot chocoate, and cold water in my waiting room, and clients sometimes find a cold or warm beverage to be helpful to them.) You might bring a stuffed animal (A friend of mine brought a favorite stuffed animal to therapy with her for years, but kept the stuffie out of the therapist’s sight in her purse. It was her own private comfort object!). or a blanket or anything that feels right for you.

4. Record your sessions. I have clients who like to record our sessions on their phones, and this helps in a few ways:

  • It allows them to have a record of everything that happened in session, which is especially helpful if you have dissociative barriers or sometimes don’t remember things well. Their ability to record our sessions and to then review them and ask questions helps them to feel safe with me, and to know for sure what happened in our time together.
  • Clients can listen to useful sessions over and over again, and this helps to reinforce the good stuff that’s happening. It solidifies their feeling that I care about them, because they hear that caring over and over again, in multiple ways, throughout the recording.)
  • It lets clients take in feedback and suggestions at their own pace. Some of my clients do some of their most major work in secret, away from my eyes! And that’s okay. They can always thank me for a suggestion, and then decide later, in the comfort of their own homes, whether they want to consider it or try it!

When you find ways to feel safe in therapy and find a therapist who honors your needs to build this sense of safety, your newfound sense of safety will extend outside the therapist’s office, and that will lead to more feelings of safety and connection for you, both inside and outside your therapy.

 

 

 

 

 

Transforming Relationships

 

Close relationships bring up our deepest hopes and often our biggest fears.

If you’re struggling with a relationship in your life, or if you’re struggling to get close to people in general, counseling can help and your relationships can grow, deepen, and change.

The relationship struggle you’re having is an opportunity. Come find out what your relationship problem really means, and how to transform your feelings, your relationships, and your life.