A Raleigh Therapist's Blog

Thoughts on counseling, healing, and creating the life you want

Writing the Story of Us in Couples Therapy and Beyond

My clients often tell me that I ask them to do wacky things in the course of fixing their relationships. They’re not wrong. I can be a little off the wall and irreverent sometimes. Though, to be fair, usually I’m paired up with the right kind of clients for these clinical adventures. Three couples this week told me that they chose me because I included a photo of Falkor in one of my blog posts. (If you don’t know who that is, firstly, shame on you. Secondly, get thee to the library and read The Neverending Story.) These people are definitely my sort!

Much of the time my odd behavior is because I’m a fruitcake who also happened to earn a doctorate. But sometimes, it’s a bit of clinical razzle dazzle to underline the fact that when partners laugh together (at me or with me) they are continuing to reinforce the notion that they enjoy one another. They can, even under the peculiar circumstance of therapy, share an experience that enriches their lives.

One of my greatest pleasures as a therapist is learning about your shared history. I want to know what makes you two different than other couples. I want to know about your strange rituals and commitments. I want to know that because I think that couples need to have a strong sense of their own story. They need to be aware of their common mythology and continue to write it and retell it to themselves every day. Even when the going gets tough, you have reference points living inside that story somewhere that will help us figure out how to pen a happier tomorrow. I’m going straight for them. I want you to as well. But, until you get off of my blog and into my office, here are a few pointers to tide you over:

1) It’s Us Against the World: I’m not overstating it here when I say that I believe a stance of us vs. them is necessary for couples to work. This isn’t aggression–it’s a sort of defensive posture against the many things that conspire to pull couples apart these days. I could name those things for you all afternoon, but chief among my list are 1) work environments that stress anything but quality of life 2)Technology that keeps us connected with people we darn well know we ought not to be talking to outside of our spouses’ knowledge 3) Family of origin stressors. It’s important for partners to feel as though they are one another’s first, best and most loyal resource. This might sound revolutionary (or perhaps antiquated, depending on your viewpoint) but it’s absolutely necessary for relationship longevity.

2) Noting Your Cycles: Every couple on this green earth has a way of fighting to avoid addressing the topic at hand. Really stuck couples have intuitively sorted out that they are not making progress on the tough stuff and have resorted instead to fighting about fighting. You’ll recognize these conversations because they contain phrases like, “you always” and “you never.” One of the more difficult shifts for me to help couples make in therapy is the vulnerable move from fighting about the fighting to fighting about the actual issues. Typically, they resist that at first, just the way you’ll exhaust a good leg to avoid putting weight on the one that hurts. Physical therapists will tell you that sometimes you have to work into that pain to make changes. This is exactly like that.

3) Narnia this Way: Creating a microculture in your own marriage that insulates you from the outside world is not only essential, it’s a joy. When you make a joke, find a way to make it a recurring inside joke. When you listen to a song you both like, text your spouse every time you hear it somewhere. Deliberately write the story of the two of you in such a way that nobody else could possibly understand how to really get there but the two of you.

Are you ready to increase the joy in your partnership? I’m ready to help. Why don’t you come on in so that we can get started?

Your Partner in Healing,

Holly

Are you looking for individual, couples or group therapy in Raleigh? Call me today to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation to learn how counseling can help you. Please contact me at (919) 714-7455 or email me at holly@lotustherapycenter.com. Visit me on the web at www.lotustherapycenter.com or:

Twitter: HollyCoxLMFT

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Who? Me? Do an Interview? Why, Sure!

We all have a few skeletons in our closets. I’m no exception. I have deep, dark secrets. But, I trust you guys so I’m going to share one with you now. Don’t judge me, alright?!

In a past life–that uneven terrain known as my 20’s–I was a journalist. I was a journalist with…mouse ears!

Yep, back before I was Dr. Cox, I was just Holly–your friendly neighborhood reporter for Walt Disney World’s cast newspaper, Eyes and Ears. Anderson Cooper might not agree that this makes me a serious writer. But, I’ll bet that he never got to do stories about pirates or ride around It’s a Small World with the lady who paints all those creepy doll things. (She was nice and not at all creepy by the way.) Working for Eyes and Ears was one of the single best experiences of my life.

So, I love to harken back to my journalistic roots and do interviews for reporters about relationship topics. In fact, it’s one of my favorite things to do. Would you like to read a couple of my most recent contributions on Galtime.com and Prevention.com? You can check them out, here:

http://www.galtime.com/story/23105784/10-relationship-behaviors-you-think-are-odd-that-are-totally-normal#ixzz2cAv4YeNt

http://www.prevention.com/sex/sex-relationships/everyday-ways-be-romantic

These are a long way from that one time I had to crawl around on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in the dark alone, before the park opened, with all the empty boats going by to take a picture of one particular animatronic pirate. Not that I still have nightmares about that or anything. (Just kidding, Disney. Mostly.)

Can I be helpful to your organization? I would be delighted to speak with you!

Your Partner in Healing,

Holly

Are you looking for compassionate individual, couples or group therapy in Raleigh? Call me today to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation to learn how counseling can help you. Please contact me at (919) 714-7455 or email me at holly@lotustherapycenter.com. Visit me on the web at www.lotustherapycenter.com or:

Twitter: HollyCoxLMFT

Pinterest:DrHollyCox

Facebook: Lotus Therapy Center

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Responsibility vs. Fault and How to be a Happy Camper

If there is one thing I dread hearing in my clinical day, it’s when a client looks at me and says something along the lines of, “You must think all of this is my fault.” Sometimes this comes flying out of someone’s mouth because she’s testing the waters just to be sure that I don’t have a negative opinion of her. And, sometimes, regrettably, it comes rolling off that client’s tongue because I have said something that gives the impression that I am, well, blaming. (I always try to clear that up quickly, by the way.) However it occurs, I feel like those are the moments in which some sort of interesting cogitating is happening.

Despite my usual wordy blogs, I want to say something short today. Here it is: There is a difference between fault and responsibility. 

I treat people with problems that are more diverse and varied than you can even begin to imagine. Many times, those things are not their faults. If you had a crappy childhood and someone kicked you around, it’s perhaps not your fault that you developed unhealthy ways of negotiating your relationships. But, ultimately, it is your responsibility to stop behaving like an emotional terrorist to your partner and children. You are not allowed to hold other people hostage to your moodiness and lack of self-control.

Does that sound harsh? Sorry. To quote a friend of mine, “Suck it up buttercup.” If you want to be happy you have to accept that responsibility to yourself and others is a blessing and a challenge to have a more fulfilling life than what you have now. It is, good people, the universe throwing down the gauntlet and saying, “What now?”

So, make now sweet. Make it beautiful. Make it good so that all the bad things you may have been through (that were not your fault) don’t make you at fault for any more harm in other people’s lives.

You can stop using.

You can stop hitting.

You can stop hurting yourself.

You can live inside of your gifts and talents rather than your deficits.

You can do all these things now because you have survived this far and you’re worth it. If it’s not your fault, that doesn’t mean it’s not your responsibility to rise up and live differently even in the face of whatever got you here.

So let’s get started on overcoming it–I believe in you.

Your Partner in Healing,

Holly

Are you looking for compassionate individual, couples or group therapy in Raleigh? Call me today to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation to learn how counseling can help you. Please contact me at (919) 714-7455 or email me at holly@lotustherapycenter.com. Visit me on the web at www.lotustherapycenter.com or:

Twitter: HollyCoxLMFT

Pinterest:DrHollyCox

Facebook: Lotus Therapy Center

Google +: Lotus Therapy Center

 

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