Stuck in a relationship rut?

Do you seem to be “off” from your partner, no matter how much you try to connect? You, like many, may be struggling to improve the bonds in your relationship and feel like your efforts are futile. Many couples come to therapy and say that they need to communicate better. But what exactly does that mean?

The truth is, communication means different things to different people. It is important to decipher what parts of the communication pattern need to shift. There are several components that make up how we communicate. It is important to understand them and to identify where the misalignment is happening.

Let’s look at how we perceive giving and receiving love, relationship pitfalls, and the most significant (but silent!) part of how we communicate–non-verbal communication.

Sometimes it is a matter of having different expectations and needs.

The 5 Love Languages

Gary Chapman’s ever popular–and really useful 5 Love Languages explore the theory that each person has a different love language, or a combination thereof, including Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Physical Touch, and Quality Time. These “languages” are how we express our love to others, and how we most feel loved by others. When couples determine their own preferred languages, they can use this information to help better meet their partners where they are.

If you and your partner have different preferred languages, you can work on incorporating more of your partner’s love language into your efforts. This can strengthen your connection.  You are someone who prefers physical touch? Then you likely express your love by showing physical affection and probably feel most loved when others show their affection for you physically. Your partner’s language is quality time? Try to carve out space and prioritize time with each other (a bonus if you share what you define as quality time—this can vary greatly from person to person). The takeaway is that you and your partner can learn more about giving and receiving love, and use this information to better interact with each other.

The Four Horsemen

The Gottman Institute is one of the leading research-based practices for relationship concerns. They have identified the Four Horsemen, which can be indicative of maladaptive ways that conflict rears its ugly head in relationships. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not the presence of conflict or arguments in a relationship that is harmful, but rather how the conflict is addressed and/or attempted to be resolved. The Four Horseman are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. The presence of any of these blocks any healthy way of resolving conflict. This can prevent effective and successful ways of addressing conflict in your relationship with your partner. You can read more about the Four Horsemen and how to rework your patterns to communicate more effectively here.

Speaking of communicating effectively…did you know that only 7% of communication is verbal?

The other 93% is a combination of body language and tone of voice. So much of what we say isn’t actually WHAT we say, but how it is said. That leaves plenty of room for misinterpretation. By identifying movement preferences, non-verbal expression cues, and body language, couples can become aware of their unspoken intentions. This assists with exploring new ways to say what they mean, and mean what they say.

Our facial expressions, eye contact, and postures have a way of communicating before words ever leave our mouths. Having our arms crossed with tense upper body can indicate being or feeling closed off. Frequent eye rolls or vocalized sighs can signify irritation or frustration. Couples can feel out of sync because they have different movement patterns. Movement patterns are the way we inherently interact with our space and environment and the people in it. One half of a couple may be gradual or decelerating. They may cautiously approaching how they move about the day and make decisions and choices. The other half may be more abrupt and accelerating—more apt to making quick decisions without much of a second thought. Neither approach is right or wrong, they are just DIFFERENT. But when partners approach things differently, it can cause strife or frustration simply because their movement preferences are varied.

What’s the next step?

Consulting with a therapist who specializes in body awareness and movement may be beneficial to help identify non-verbal language patterns to bring cohesiveness to the relationship. That therapist can observe and assess facial expressions, body posturing, and even rate and tone of speech to address whether the internal intention matches the outward expression. Consider meeting with a dance/movement therapist, or someone certified in movement analysis or movement patterning.

Like the 5 Love Languages and the Four Horsemen, any insight or awareness about movement preferences can help couples to become more attuned and aligned. Insight into these concepts can assist with fostering better overall communication and hopefully strengthening the partnership.

About the Author

Gail Gogliotti, LCPC, BC-DMT is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Gail works with adults and couples. Gail’s specialties include dance/movement therapy, body/mind integration, trauma, mood disorders, and stress management. If you are interested in working with Gail, send an email today.

So, you survived the holidays. The endless Christmas carols, flooding of your inbox with sales and last-minute deals, and the ever-present temptation of sweets everywhere you look. The end of the calendar year brings about the anticipation of a new year—an opportunity for a fresh start, making changes, ridding yourself of unhealthy habits, and maybe once and for all, creating and sticking to those New Year’s resolutions.

Why are resolutions so hard to keep?

For many, there is initial motivation after the new year begins, but as post-holiday life returns to the daily grind, we get back into our regular schedules and routines, and the changes that we are seeking haven’t become habitual enough to have a lasting impression. If 2018 is the year you are resolving to keep your resolutions, a shift in your perspective may help. Rather than thinking about the multitude of things you need to quit or do differently, it is important to evaluate where you are—recognize the parts of your life that are strong, healthy and positive. By focusing on your strengths, you can start from a place that feels more confident to achieve what you want.

Then, look at the changes you would like to make. Are they realistic? Do you have the means to accomplish them? Are there other steps involved in being successful in accomplishing what you have set out to do? From there, you can determine what your “resolutions” are, and perhaps instead of creating a resolution, think about creating goals that are focused, measurable, and have short-term positive gains. If not, the goals or changes may feel too large or overwhelming and may make it more difficult for you to feel like you are able to achieve them.

Many people set goals for themselves that are financial or health-based.

If your plan is to start saving, rather than trying to save $$$$/month, set up an meeting with a financial planner. A financial planner can help you get a grasp of where you are and what your long-term goals are. They can help you to create a plan that works with where you are currently and how to get to where you want to be. Or, challenge yourself to save a small amount per week or per paycheck. You will be able to see the benefit sooner, which will then motivate you to continue to work toward the longer term.

Want to become fit, or lose weight, or eat better? Completely overhauling your lifestyle just because the calendar changes from 2017 to 2018 can be a daunting task. Consider making daily changes. Try Meatless Mondays, walking 10-15 minutes each day, or joining a new class (bonus if you join with a friend-company is very motivating). Wellness also includes your mental health—if you are thinking about overall wellness, don’t forget about your mind! Make an appointment for a consultation with a mental health professional, or try meditation to recharge and refocus your brain.

Contemplating goals that have a greater good in mind?

Seek out local options for volunteering, or consider adding certain charities to your donation list. If you want to clear your space or environment, see if there are shelters, schools or non-profits that may benefit from your gently-used or unwanted items.

No matter what changes you hope for in the new year, think about keeping goals measurable, focused, and with options for positive short-term results. When you can accomplish smaller goals on the way to the “big goal,” the mini-successes create a cycle of motivational and positive feedback, encouraging you to want to continue. And if at first you don’t succeed, you can always try, try again.  Each day brings the opportunity to create positive change!

Warm wishes for wellness in the New Year!

About the Author

Gail Gogliotti, LCPC, BC-DMT is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Gail works with adults and couples. Gail’s specialties include dance/movement therapy, body/mind integration, trauma, mood disorders, and stress management. If you are interested in working with Gail, send an email today.

Expressing to Connect: Dance/Movement Therapy for People with Dementia

As the population of older adults is increasing, it is relevant and necessary to find therapies that are effective in working with memory loss and other issues that older adults face. More and more research is being done regarding expressive therapies in older adults with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Dance/movement therapy has proven beneficial for many reasons, including increased self-esteem, enhanced creativity and self-expression, cognitive organization, emotional regulation, and increased socialization. Additionally, communicating with others is fostered, both verbally and non-verbally.

The American Dance Therapy Association defines dance/movement therapy as “the psychotherapeutic use of movement as a process which furthers the emotional, cognitive, physical, and social integration of the individual” and is based on the belief that body and mind are interrelated.

Dance/Movement Therapy has shown both physiological and psychological benefits. When we engage in movement, our bodies release endorphins, our “feel good” chemicals–which help us to feel better overall. People who have participated in dance/movement therapy (DMT) have reported feeling less tense, more relaxed (or more energized, depending on the movement) and decreased pain. Psychologically, moods and emotions can be affected, interpersonal relationships can shift, and a person’s mental health may improve. The wonderful thing about DMT is that it can be recommended for anyone, regardless of diagnosis, age, or ability. A therapist can ‘meet the client where he or she is,’ meaning that the approach can and should be tailored to each individual persons’ needs.

When working with a person with dementia, goals can often include increasing expression, communication, interpersonal interaction, and socialization, and finding a way for the client to actively engage in the here-and-now experience. In keeping in the here-and-now experience, you can truly meet the client where he/she is–there isn’t any pressure to say or do the right thing, or to remember what you had for breakfast or where you grew up.  Just like we hold memories in our minds, we also have body (and sensory) memory–Certain sites, smells, tastes remind us of other things—so can movement. Movement can evoke memories long “forgotten” by the mind. It really is a testament to the body-mind connection. For people who have dementia, verbal communication and expression can become challenging, and DMT provides an outlet for them to be expressive non-verbally, too, through facial expressions, posture, gesture, and more expressive movement. Because of communication or memory difficulties, people can tend to isolate themselves, so it is important to be mindful of how they interact with others. DMT can encourage people to feel more comfortable in their bodies and environments, which may promote increased social interactions.

In thinking from a dance/movement therapy lens, the objective is not about whatever art form is presented–in this case, dance. The focus is the process, not product, and the experience, not education or training.

Resources:

www.adta.org

www.alz.org

About the Author

Gail Gogliotti, LCPC, BC-DMT is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Gail works with adults and couples. Gail’s specialties include dance/movement therapy, body/mind integration, trauma, mood disorders, and stress management. If you are interested in working with Gail, send an email today!

Using Movement to Heal from Trauma

It appears every time we tune into the news, something catastrophic is happening. We are all exposed to trauma on many levels, multiple times a day. As traumatic events seem to be more and more prevalent (or perhaps just more publicized), there is a need to understand how to cope with traumatic experiences—whether first-hand or secondary. Trauma can affect us physically, change our behaviors, intensify our emotions, and transform our psyches.  Often, our reactions to trauma can include denial, anxiety, fear and helplessness. Beliefs, views and relationships can be challenged. Healing from trauma is possible, and this healing can be fostered by bringing the body into the therapeutic process.  As we know, processing feelings and emotions is central to the therapeutic process. Such expression can freely occur, or it can be blocked in the body. Such blocks often occur as the result of trauma, and working through the body can help to foster expression.

Why focus on the body and movement?

Using approaches like breath work, mindfulness, meditation, relaxation techniques, and dance/movement therapy can directly affect symptoms a person might experience following traumatic exposure, including hyperarousal, numbing, dissociation, isolation, depression, anxiety, and feeling out of control.

In a body-based therapy session, you might expect to learn the following:

Several additional therapies and approaches have also been successful in trauma treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), hypnosis, exposure therapy, group therapy, sensorimotor psychotherapy, and the creative arts therapies.

Additional resources:

References:

About the Author

Gail Gogliotti, LCPC, BC-DMT is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Gail works with adults and couples. Gail’s specialties include dance/movement therapy, body/mind integration, trauma, mood disorders, and stress management. If you are interested in working with Gail, send an email today!