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Relationships are messy + delicious. Learn about how Robyn D'Angelo, The Happy Couple Expert uses science to effectively help couples in Orange County, California to master the messiness of relationships while learning how to love + be loved, better.

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Filtering by Tag: counseling

Signs That It's Time To See A Couples Therapist.

Emily Porta

Every couple has ups and downs, so at what point is it time to reach out and get professional help? Here are a few signs that seeing a couples therapist might be your best chance at a healthy, happy relationship. 

Did these help you? I'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or contact me directly. 



Emily Porta

I found a t-shirt, that I eventually bought, that said "Fear is Excitement without Breath." Have you every noticed your breath when you are afraid, worried or panicked? We forget to breathe! It makes sense if we were in a jungle and being hunted and didn't want to be found...right? But that same instinct exists when we are overwhelmed, stressed, or nervous and yet it does not serve us. When we stop breathing we are restricting ourselves and this can make us more panicked. 

What are you afraid of? People come into my office with a list of things they don't want to talk about or deal with. I understand, we are scared. I am too sometimes. I am afraid of what I will discover. But fear is a response to our imagination. If we are self deprecating, then typically we will imagine a worse case scenario when we are stressed. Our brain cannot tell the difference between imagination and reality and thus it responds to your self created catastrophe in your mind. 

The practice of mindfulness shows us how to sit with fear and look at it for what it is...not for what we create it to be. When you lean into what you fear, fear dissipates and other emotions are allowed to infiltrate the mind. I find when I face my fears, really look to see if it is worth keeping in my life, they tend to be squashed. Yes, there is a good kind of fear. When you are in a traumatic situation, fear can serve to help you survive. I am talking about our daily fears. For some of us that means our fears to commit in a relationship or change careers. For others it might even be a fear to leave the house or try something new. Whatever fears you may have, they keep you chained up and away from experiences. 

Counseling can help with fear. It isn't the complete antidote, but it is supportive while you challenge yourself. Trust me, your imagination is holding you back. Live in reality, live in the now. 

Is this thing working?

Emily Porta

Most of us want to know something is going to work before we try it. We read reviews of products before we use the or listen to evaluations of places before we plan a visit. So how does that work with counseling? I mean, how do you know it is going to work? You can hear from one person that they LOVE their counselor or therapist and that same therapist has had clients that stopped coming to them because they didn't like it at all.  I know people that have been in therapy for years. Does that mean it isn't working for them? Actually this is the exciting part. You get to decide. You get to decide who you see, how honest you are, what you talk about and how long you go. Think of it like you are designing your own tailor made product that works only for you!

When counseling works, you usually know it right away. If you don't, just take a little bit of time for self reflection and evaluate some of the following areas:

• Did the issue I brought to counseling initially get addressed? Has their been any improvement at all, even if it feels small?

• Have I seen changes in my relationships, career, or other areas of my life?

• Am I more aware of my feelings or insight about situations?

• Do I feel  motivated to go to counseling? Am I looking forward to what else I will learn?

If you answered yes to these questions, I would say in general, counseling is working for you! That is great!

If you said no to the majority of these questions, then here are some other questions you can ask yourself to figure out why it may not be effective:

• Do you feel a connection with your therapist? If you don't, have you talked to them about it? Not every therapist is for everyone. I tell clients that if they don't feel a connection or that my style jives with theirs, I am happy to provide a referral. It doesn't mean I am a bad therapist or they are a bad client. In fact, to me, that kind of honesty is what makes therapy successful. If I can link a client to someone that does help them, then I have done my job!

• Do you feel understood or listened to in your sessions? Nothing is worse then speaking from your heart and having it completely disregarded. The process of therapy is one of developing knowing - knowing of ourselves and being known by the other (the therapist)

• Can you be totally honest in your sessions? That's right, leave your censorship at the door. 

• Do you want change in your life and are you ready to take risks to make this happen? Risks might include setting boundaries with other people that might get upset about it or asserting your needs even when there is no guarantee that they will be met.

I believe counseling helps people. It has helped me personally and I wouldn't be in this profession if I didn't think it helped others. A good therapist wants to see you have positive change in your life. If you need help figuring out if counseling is right for you, consult with a therapist. I, and many other therapists, offer free consults to help you make the right decision for yourself. 

Do you just see couples?

Emily Porta

The other day, someone asked me what I do for a living. This is a common question really. We all have different ways we respond to this question, but typically I just say "I am a Marriage and Family Therapist." To which they then say, "oh, so you do marriage counseling?" And then, I can decide to flesh out my response or just politely nod. Right now, I want to respond a little more to that assumption. Being a Marriage and Family Therapist, means I help people that have been in families or marriages...so that means, anyone. I see individuals, teens, couples (married, cohabiting, dating, etc.), and families.

I wish my title was more something like "secret keeper." I hold the hurts, pains, frustrations along with the joys, celebrations, and successes that anyone can experience in life. It really is a privilege. A privilege that not everyone understands. But when you tell your secrets, it can bring healing and freedom. When you share your pain, you are a little less alone. And when you have an accomplishment, you have someone very proud of you. So if you feel like seeing a MFT is just for people with marriage problems or parenting issues, think again. Just ask. You might find someone who can share in your journey and help you find what you are looking for...hope, healing, peace, health...you know, the good stuff.