Relationships & Social Life
Creating and maintaining healthy relationships is one of the most significant things we can do to support our mental health, particularly as we age. Quality relationships can bring great joy, support, companionship, learning, fulfilment, humor, opportunities to give, and love into our lives. And when relationships aren’t going so well, or when it’s difficult to make friends, date, or connect with coworkers, this can really affect our mental health. We can feel depressed, lonely, isolated, angry, ashamed, hopeless, awkward, like we don’t fit in, or unworthy. We can feel afraid of losing the people who matter most to us, or of losing our job. If you are unhappy with some aspect of your love life, your family or social life, or your professional relationships, I am here to help.
I would like to help you to establish the kind of human connections you desire in your life in all your relationships… sexual/romantic, family, parenting, friends and acquaintances, in the workplace or school, and in community organizations (spiritual or religious, volunteer, sporting activities etc.).
How I help
It can sometimes be hard to talk about relationship difficulties, because of feelings of shame, guilt, or anger. I offer a warm, compassionate, nonjudgmental setting to explore what’s troubling you. I work with individuals of all gender identities, sexual orientations, and family and relationship structures. I do not seek to impose my own views but rather to understand what you value most and how I can help you create the life you aspire to. My clients often say that they appreciate talking to me because I have no connection to their social or professional circle, so they can speak about their feelings without fear of judgment or repercussion. This can allow more space for reflection, and lead to clarity about what needs to change.
My goal is to help you sort out what is getting in the way of you being able to have the kinds of relationships in your life that you most want. If you are seeking therapy to work on a specific relationship, or a specific problem in relating to others, we will agree on a treatment plan to address this. If you aren’t sure what isn’t working in your social life and relationships, we can begin there, helping you identify what is most important for you in your connections with others, and which kinds of relationships feel most challenging to create or maintain, or most absent.
I typically work on two levels to address relationship challenges:
On a pragmatic level, we figure out practical things you can do and new skills I can help you develop to move you towards your goals. These skills may be related to forming relationships or to successfully maintaining them or to taking care of yourself going through a breakup. This gives you something concrete to be working on right from the start of therapy. Often, significant changes occur pretty quickly.
At the same time, we will also explore whether there are ways of being or patterns of behavior in how you approach your relationships that may not be serving you in creating the kind of connections with others that you would like to have. This work takes us deeper into what you learned about relating growing up. We are inherently social beings, oriented toward relationship from the beginning of our lives, when our dependence on our primary caregivers makes learning to relate crucial for survival. Right from the get-go, we are developing patterns of interacting with others that we tend to carry into our relationships going forward. Sometimes, these are counter-productive for achieving the healthy relationships we desire as adults. Once we discover these patterns together, I can help you to evolve new ways of being that lead to better outcomes.