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The Language of Relationship Empowerment

How do we lose our way with the people we love?

The answer is quite easily and for most of us if we don't put in the right effort, support and cherishing attitude into the relationship it can happen to any relationship.

The problem is once a couple gets de-railed they often struggle to restore the harmony and balance again. This is when bad habits take over a relationship and leave two loving people feeling helpless, withdrawn and irritated.

Sitting across from me is Brian a wealthy business man who claims his wife Susan complains about the relationship too much and describes how aggressive and demanding she can be.He continues his protest saying if only she would just get over her anger he would be more loving.

"I cannot be the only one who cares about this relationship.If you are not going to try why should I bother" Susan responds full of anger and disappointment. "All you do is neglect this relationship and put in this half ass effort."

So whose version of the story is right?

The answer is both.

Each partner has their version of how difficult and challenging their side of the story is and if we are going to get anywhere it is through through the doors of empathy.

This happens to be one of the first techniques I teach couples… "Acknowledging where your partner is coming from is true for them."

Otherwise each couple stays in their corner defending against the other and nothing new emerges.

So getting both Brian and Susan to place where they can acknowledge each others pain and truly see one another is critical to relationship recovery.

Every relationship will struggle, fight, collapse and move into their unique cycles.The question for most couples I see is how can they regain confidence, trust and recover from the damage done through their unhealthy patterns.

My job is sorting out this 'bad deal' that has been going on for years and help these two develop new positive habits to each get the relationship they want with one another.

I always look to support couples through teaching them tools and strategies to communicate better, move into more intimacy and communicate with greater clarity.If both partners are committed to change we can always find that path out of unhealthy conflict back to relationship harmony.

The challenge is that couples need to develop new language with one another; I help Calgary couples counselling them towards recovery through coaching them back to path of putting the relationship at higher level.

5 Powerful Relationship Strategies

  • 1.Learn New rules for difficult conversations
  • 2.Move from immature to mature dialogue
  • 3.Listen beyond cliche and develop more curiosity
  • 4.Speak with greater relationship integrity
  • 5.Recover from conflict and move into more intimacy

I share and teach this knowledge by motivating both partners to find their voice.If both partners commit to learning this new language with one another change is inevitable.

Looking for couples counselling Calgary and finding the right marriage counselling in Calgary for you and your partner can be stressful. Make sure you find a counsellor that has a strong background and training in working with couples.


Overcoming an addiction often takes more than will power

"I lost everything. My kids, my husband, my job" she paused looking away for moment before she continued "My respect, my integrity and my trust."

This was my first introduction to Debra, a charming and lively middle aged woman that immediately left me impacted by her painful story and battle with addiction. (Debra's story is disguised so that she will remain anonymous)

How does a person who appears to have everything start a drug addiction to cocaine at the age of 44? How does this same person who has a deep love for her partner of 15yrs let an addiction destroy that relationship? How did a loving mother of two children loose her right as mother to raise her kids only to have supervised weekend visits?

This story began two years earlier at neighborhood BBQ when Debra tried Coke for the first time. Debra was surprised by the feeling that coke gave her, she felt elevated, confident and full of potential when she was high on coke. This feeling left Debra hungry for something that she was missing in her life and as she described in later session, "I was bored I guess, I felt like life was empty and for some reason I wasn't fully aware of these feelings."

Debra's story is not unfamiliar, the details may change but the slippery slope of addiction and the cycle of compulsion remains the same. Most of us are susceptible to addiction and I suggest that in every story of an individual's journey into addictive behavior there is a tipping point of crystallizing that cycle into a fixed pattern.

I believe Debra's tipping point happened quite quickly when she began to seek out coke and had large amounts of time without adults around her to get high. She worked from home and had a nanny for the kids from 9-3 every day; she began a ritual of using every day while slowly exhausting the family's savings without anyone knowing.

At first her husband welcomed his newly energized wife and didn't ask questions, not until he noticed the mood swings and then later the bank statements. By the time he intervened Debra had spent over $60k on drugs, followed by five months of false promises, excuses and really shameful behaviors all leading to him leaving with the kids.

Addiction is a force that renders us helpless, ashamed and often leads to feelings of isolation. Debra had lost everything and was seeking treatment because survival demanded it, she was a very resilient woman but she felt she was on her last leg.

On a biological level if we take a closer look in Debra's brain we would see that coke was unnaturally flooding her brain with high levels of dopamine creating that feeling of elevation, false happiness and confidence. Dopamine is a messenger in our brains often associated with "feeling good" and when a person takes coke their brains are flooded with unnatural amount of dopamine. On a biological level the receptor cells that receive dopamine start dying in response to counter the flooding, leaving the person with less ability to receive dopamine naturally without the coke. You can see how this cycle creates dependency fast.

I have a long list of factors that contribute to how a person will react and respond to addictive behaviors such as how a person deals with stress, anxiety. Debra was especially vulnerable to addiction even though she had managed to live 44years of her life without ever being addicted to any substances and I will share why it happened now.

Earlier I mentioned every addict will encounter an tipping point, Debra moved into a full addiction pattern because she had the available time to develop an addiction by being relatively uninterrupted, but underlying all of her behaviors and decisions was a five year depression that had Debra feeling empty.

Denial is perhaps the only thing I have seen stronger than addiction and together it is the perfect storm to destroy relationships, careers and lives.

Debra had never expressed her disapproval of many of the big decisions in her marriage; she deadened her ability to speak her mind and in the process numbed herself. Perhaps the biggest decision was four years earlier when they moved away from living close to her family to another province. (These factors are not intended to be shown as cause and effects but rather highlighting the complexity of addiction and the many contributions).

Once Debra committed to the process of therapy she responded really well to developing a strong strategy to shifting her patterns and coping with stress. Debra's survival and life depended on improving and the stakes were high.

Debra still has very difficult challenges when it comes to dealing with mood swings, but her coping skills include much healthier options now, she has re-built friendships, started working again and has since started out on path of building stronger relationships with her children.

Determining the psychological challenges that contribute to addictive behavior are the most critical to recovery when a person is ready for change. Debra had lost sight of many resources and strength's in her own reservoir. It was my job to help restore Debra's self-responsibility and autonomy so that she could count on herself to endure through difficult times and live a balanced life.

My Approach to Addiction:

  1. Develop awareness of strengths and weaknesses
  2. Pattern Shifting through experiential therapy
  3. Build awareness for stress indicators and trap doors
  4. Preparation for Momentum & Mood Shifts
  5. Move past guilt, shame & doubt
  6. Challenge Belief Systems
  7. Discover more meaning and purpose
  8. Develop a healthy Attitude towards Change
  9. Setting healthy goals
  10. Learn how the brain, behavior and compulsions of an addict work
  11. Exercise (It's a natural way we create endorphins )
  12. Developing an eye for catching yourself-We all fall….It's how we pick ourselves up!!!


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Meet Ken

Ken is a certified psychotherapist that specializes in a powerful approach called Gestalt Therapy that focuses on building a person's awareness, self-esteem and mind-body connection.


Office Locations

Explore your concerns in a warm, safe, and non-judgmental environment.

My offices are located in Calgary and Alberta.