Nervous About Starting Individual Counseling? Here’s What to Expect

 
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So you’re thinking about starting individual counseling...

If you’ve never experienced a counseling session before, you might be a bit apprehensive.

Oftentimes, the uncertainty of going to counseling is more about the fear of the unknown and not knowing what to expect than anything else. When you’re more familiar with the process of counseling, it  can help alleviate some of the pre-session anxiety and help you feel more comfortable during the first few sessions. Your experience will differ depending on the counselor or the practice you choose, but here are a few things you can expect from a first counseling session.

Once you’ve found a counselor you want to work with, it can be a good idea to prepare for the experience. On our website, we’ve included a specific page to help our clients know what to expect, from how to go about scheduling an appointment to what to do when you arrive for the first counseling session. Check out your counselor’s website to see if they provide this information. If they don’t, you can always call and ask.

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There can be a lot of nerves involved with finding your counselor’s office, arriving on time, and waiting for your first session to begin. When you arrive, give yourself some time to settle in to the space and take some deep breaths. Some counseling offices have a receptionists who will guide you through the process, but many counselors simply share an office and waiting area with other providers. If there is no one there to check in with, take a seat and make yourself comfortable. Many waiting rooms will have refreshments like coffee, tea, or water so you can help yourself. Sit back and relax! Your counselor will meet you when it’s time for your appointment.

Client paperwork can vary, and each counselor has their own way of doing things, but one thing you can be sure of is for your counselor to review their informed consent document. This document informs you of your counselor’s credentials, how they approach the counseling process, limits to confidentiality, and other important info your counselor might want you to know. Take the time to read over this document and note any questions you might have. You’ll review it verbally at the start of your first session and will have a chance to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.

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After reviewing informed consent and taking care of any other housekeeping items, it’s time to dive in. The purpose of the first counseling session is really about making sure it’s the right fit for you and to get to know one another. The counselor will typically lead by asking you questions about your life, who you are, and what you like. You’re building a new relationship with your counselor, and it’ll take some time to get to know one another. Your counselor will likely also want to talk about why you’re seeking counseling and what you hope to gain from the experience.

You may have some fear about feeling overcome with emotion or crying. Try not to worry too much about this, your counselor is comfortable with tears and wants to create a safe place to express any painful emotions you’re experiencing. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but it can be a release to let out a build-up of emotions. Your counselor is there to help you learn to navigate and become more comfortable with vulnerability.

Don’t forget, you can always reach out to your counselor beforehand to ask any questions you may have. Each counseling practice is different and has it’s own way of doing things, but we want you to know that it’s not as scary as it may seem.


 

3 Ways to Invest in Your Relationship This October

 
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It’s fall, y’all! The changing weather forces us to slow down and spend a little more time inside. Fall is a time for family, a time for friends, and also a time to reflect. To reflect on ourselves and on the state of our relationships. Though couples counseling is a great way to invest in your partnership, it isn’t the only way. Instead, you may choose to schedule a routine date night to keep your friendship strong, or you could attend an event meant for couples, like our Creating Connection Couples Retreat.

Investing in your relationship is about evaluating what you need and making these relationship needs a priority. How are things with you and your partner? Are you feeling connected and on the same page? Are you paying enough attention to your relationship to keep it sound?

Slowing down during the fall provides a great opportunity to refocus and increase your connection with your partner. Here are 3 ways you can invest in your relationship this October.

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1) Plan for the holidays

Now is a good time to pre-plan for the holidays. This time of year can be a fun time with friends and family, but it can also be pretty stressful. Take some time to sit down with your partner and discuss the logistics of what you’ll be doing for each holiday. It’s important to show your partner you care by prioritizing time spent with your own side of the family as well as your partner’s side. Discuss whose family you’ll spend time with, when you’ll be going, and agree to be a support system for one another. Sometimes our families can really stress us out! You may choose to put your plans on a shared calendar that each of you has access to so there won’t be any confusion. Planning ahead of time can save you a lot of headache as you get closer to the holidays by allowing you to prepare as a couple, coordinate with each of your families ahead of time, and prevent you from having last minute arguments about your plans.

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2) Celebrate Halloween together

Halloween… a wonderful time to let loose and dress up! One of my favorite things about halloween is coordinating costumes with my partner. For us, planning and shopping for all the pieces of our costumes is almost as much fun as dressing up. Need some couples costume ideas? Check out our Halloween Couples Costumes board on Pinterest. Some ideas are super cheesy, and some are really clever. Even cheesy can be fun though. Make it a family affair and include the kids too! Of course, you don’t have to actually coordinate your costumes to have a good time together. But it’s so much more fun when you have others to participate in the festivities with you.

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3) Attend a couples retreat together

One way to directly invest in your relationship is to go to a workshop or retreat specifically created to strengthen your bond as a couple. Couples retreats are a great way to reconnect with one another on a deeper level and explore the dynamics of your relationship. Our retreat, coming up on October 20th, is a time for you to learn about research-based practices to keep your relationship strong through the ups and downs of your lives together. It’s also a fun alternative to traditional premarital counseling. Join us for Creating Connection Couples Retreat to explore ways of nurturing your friendship, how to meet one another’s needs, improving communication and emotional understanding, and creating a shared vision for the future of your relationship. The couples retreat is set in the Texas Hill Country and is a great space to unplug and get away for the day.


Whatever you do, the point is to show your relationship some love. Make time for your partner and their family, do something fun together, and be an active participant in your life together. Nurture your relationship. Be silly together. Stay connected.

What are some of your favorite ways to spend time with your partner this season?


-Hannah


 

How Acupuncture Can Help Your Mental Health | with TK Largey

 

As mental health counselors, we’re always looking for effective methods to integrate mind-body wellness and supplement talk therapy. Acupuncture is one avenue we’ve found to be effective for many of our therapy clients struggling with depression, anxiety, and more. Meet our go-to Austin acupuncturist, TK Largey, of Teak Acupuncture.

Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do.

Hi! I’m an acupuncturist working in South Austin who specializes in working with anxiety, stress, trauma, and mood disorders.  

What are your passions and hobbies?

I am a giant young adult fiction fan! I can remember sitting in the young adult section of a bookstore when I was about fourteen, looking over at the adult book section, and panicking a little that I was going to have to stop reading YA books when I got a few years older. Then I just decided that I was going to keep reading YA literature no matter how old I got, and I have! I do read other things too, of course, but there’s something about that vulnerable and transformative time in a person's life that captivates and inspires me.

I think that’s the same thing that draws me to working with clients who are struggling with physical and emotional trauma. There’s such an amazing opportunity for growth and transformation at those junctures in our lives, and I’m always honored to accompany people as they go through that process of transformation and watch as a trauma, or pain, or fear, or sadness, or whatever becomes a springboard for change, growth, and a new beginning. That just never gets old.

Tell us about your journey as an acupuncturist.

I suffered from severe anxiety as a teen and young adult. At times in my life it really affected my ability to leave my home, interact with others, and have meaningful relationships. After trying just about everything else, I tried acupuncture. The relief I got was so dramatic and life-changing  that I decided to become an acupuncturist. I was living in Boston at the time and moved back to Austin, where I had attended UT. I enrolled at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine in Austin, TX. Six weeks after graduating the four year program, while I was five months pregnant, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I had planned on opening a clinic with two other new graduates, but chemotherapy and the birth of a healthy baby girl brought this dream to a halt.  Eventually, between caring for a baby and recovering my health and strength, I took my board exams and got my license! I practiced out of my home for awhile and was eventually hired on as an acupuncturist at Wiseman Family Practice, which is a thriving integrative family practice in Austin, TX, where I got to work with a dedicated team of doctors and nurse practitioners. Earlier this year, I took the leap to finally realize my dream of having my own clinic and opened Teak Acupuncture. I am loving it!

What’s your favorite part about working in your field?

The people. Hands down. I love that, as an acupuncturist, I get to spend time with my patients and develop relationships with them. An initial visit is 1.5 hours, and 45 minutes of that is talking! After that, I usually see patients weekly or every other week for 8-10 visits for an hour at a time.  I really get to know them and care for them. It’s always a bittersweet time when patients are feeling better and don’t need to come as often, but it’s so wonderful to see them getting back to the things that bring them joy and to catch up when they come back occasionally for “tune-ups” or to work on something else that has sprung up.  

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How can people benefit from working with you?

I work with my clients to help them regain and maintain physical and emotional health. So, the benefits can be as varied as the people I see. Some of the ways I see patients benefit from acupuncture are by reducing or removing physical pain, calming an overactive mind, renewing energy for daily life, improving sleep, and more!

Why is it important to you to integrate acupuncture with mental health?

Traditional Chinese medicine does not separate the mind from the body. Many people find that they have physical pain or dysfunction that goes hand-in-hand with an emotional component. For example, many people notice they get a headache or upset stomach when under stress.  Acupuncture can help unwind the chain of imbalances that stress, physical trauma, and emotional trauma cause. Different people see this manifest in different ways, depending on their bodies’ natural disposition and its innate strengths and weaknesses. It might be digestive issues, back pain, headaches, trouble sleeping, shortness of breath, dizziness, anxiety, depression, or hypervigilance. Acupuncture can help heal damage and reset the body to its non-stress state, creating a place of stability for the deeper healing and understanding that comes with mental health therapy.  

What can people expect from working with you?

Treatment starts with a new patient visit, which lasts 1.5 hours and includes an extensive intake and a treatment session. At that time, we come up with a treatment plan. Acupuncture can actually change your brain and your body, but much like changing your muscles with a new exercise regime, this takes time. A general rule of thumb is that it takes about 10 weekly sessions to see real differences, although many people start to notice differences after just a few sessions. This varies from person to person. Some people see results more quickly and some people take a little longer. Once a desired effect is achieved patients begin coming less frequently, and then they may just come in for occasional “tune-ups” or when a new condition arises.

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How can people connect with you?

Check out my website, TeakAcupuncture.com! You’ll find a lot more information about what to expect at your first treatment and more about me. I’m always happy to answer any questions people may have about acupuncture and if it might be right for you. You may also feel free to e-mail me at tk@TeakAcupuncture.com.  

 

These 2 Articles Will Help Your Relationship | Tips From an Austin Marriage Counselor

 
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Here are 2 things you need to know about relationships this week, from the impacts of social media to the effects of certain emotions on physical health. Read on to find out more about how we, as marriage counselors, approach these topics.


Heads up! Social media use has major impacts on relationships

Here we are in the year of 2018, and social media is king. Social media provides entertainment and connection, but it can also cause problems in our relationships — from how much time you spend scrolling to what you’re posting to jealousy and snooping. This is a loaded topic.

This NY Times article profiles the major impact that social media has on romantic relationships and how to keep it from ruining yours! Social media is fairly new; therefore, it’s new and uncharted territory where the rules are being defined as we go.

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According to PEW, a 2014 research study, “45 percent of millennial respondents said their social media accounts had had a “major impact” on their relationships.”

According to Gillian McCallum, the CEO of a UK Matchmaking Company, the most common fight related to social media is the amount of time spent on Facebook or Instagram.  What’s happening is one partner is prioritizing scrolling through Instagram, leaving the other partner feeling second to the phone. The article pushes for couples to have at least 20 minutes of screen-free time together or taking it a step further where all meals are phone-free.

Another part of social media use is about what you post! Social media is public, and people can share some pretty intimate details about their lives. What’s your partners comfortability level with sharing personal details? Are they more private than you may be?

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“The volume of photographs of your relationship that you post on Facebook is not indicative of the success or warmth within that relationship.”

There’s great potential to hurt your partner with online behavior. The article suggests talking about issues that arise with social media in your relationship on a case-by-case basis. It’s important to take time to examine your reaction to understand why you’re upset, rather than just making it about the behavior.

Check out the full article for more thoughts on how to manage social media within your marriage or relationship.


How you fight affects your physical health too

This short NY Times article outlines some impacts of certain emotions on physical health. According to a recent article in the journal, Emotion, experiencing intense emotions regularly in your marriage or relationship can have detrimental effects on your physical health.

What!?! Our minds can affect how healthy our bodies are?

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At Austin Relational Wellness, our therapists keep this mind-body connection in mind when doing any kind of counseling. In marriage counseling, this connection is evident in the stress responses of partners when they’re angry or stonewalling, or refusing to engage or cooperate. As stated in the article, when we’re angry, we become flushed and our heart rate rises. This also makes it impossible to think completely rationally and puts us into defense mode. Stonewalling usually results in muscular tension.

The study found that the physiological responses to emotions like anger and those associated with stonewalling set your body up for some pretty serious future health problems, like heart and muscular issues. The goal — tackle the root of the issue and learn to argue differently as a preventative measure to health problems… and to better your relationship of course!

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The concept of “fighting” in a calm way is central to our work with couples. In fact, we don’t really see this type of conflict management as “fighting” at all. In our work in marriage counseling, we help couples move from a place of defensive arguing to a place of discussion and understanding. The goal is for couples to deepen their understanding of one another’s points of view so that they can have more insight into their partner’s world, more compassion for each other, and eventually come to a compromise on the issue.

The article highlights the importance of learning to manage conflict in a healthy way, not only for your own mental and relational health, but also for your physical health.


Feel like your marriage could use some help with navigating social media use or managing conflict? We’re here to help. Head to our couples therapy page to learn more and to get in touch with a marriage counselor.


-Cat & Hannah


 

Not Just Sex | 3 Types of Intimacy to Consider in your Marriage

 
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What does the word intimacy mean to you? In the context of romantic relationships, intimacy is oftentimes associated with sex or physical closeness. In our couples therapy sessions and at our premarital couples retreats, we frequently ask couples what comes to mind when they hear the word intimacy. The most common thing we hear is, “Sex!” When pressed further, we hear things like closeness, connection, knowing one another, trust, openness, private, and sacred.

So what is this intimacy thing all about? The word may mean different things to different people, but it definitely goes beyond sex! Consider each of the following three dimensions of intimacy in relationships.

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Emotional Intimacy

This is the friendship part of your relationship. It’s things like how well you know your partner’s inner world, the time you spend together doing things you enjoy, or knowing each other’s dreams and fears. In Gottman Method Couples Therapy, you spend time building your love maps. The idea behind building love maps is, at its core, to improve emotional intimacy. Knowing the little things about your partner’s life creates a strong foundation for your friendship and is an important factor in a couple’s level of closeness. In couples therapy, you work with a therapist to build more a detailed love map of your partner’s world. The emotional intimacy of love maps prepares you to cope better when a stressful event or conflict arises.

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Spiritual Intimacy

The spiritual dimension of intimacy refers to shared values and spiritual beliefs in your relationship. This includes the shared vision of your relationship. In other words, it’s how connected you feel on things like, your philosophy of marriage and relationships, religious beliefs, parenting styles, and family values. While spiritual intimacy can relate to religion, the word spiritual in this sense really refers to your connection with the intangible forces that drive our relationships. This dimension looks very different for each couple based on what connects them. It’s based on what bonded them together in the first place and where they see their relationship going in the future. Creating this shared meaning is another focus of Gottman Method Couples Therapy, as the therapist helps the couple build and maintain a system of shared meaning. Couples who are spiritually intimate find purpose and meaning in their relationships.

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Physical Intimacy

Physical intimacy extends beyond just sex. While sex is an important part of a relationship, this dimension also includes affection and physical touch like eye contact, kissing, cuddling, hand holding, hugs, and massages. Physical intimacy is an important way partners show their love for one another. People differ when it comes to how much physical affection they need to feel connected. It’s an important conversation to have with your partner, especially during certain life transitions such as moving in together or having children. Connecting with your partner on a physical level helps you each feel cared for.

Consider these three types of intimacy and how they show up in your relationship. Take some time to talk with your partner about where you feel you are in each of the areas and where you’d like to see them change or improve. These are conversations that are helpful to have throughout your relationship. Take time to check in with your partner every now and then about the emotional, spiritual, and physical parts of your relationship to improve your marriage and strengthen your bond.

 

Where Soulful Women Find Their Tribe in Austin

 
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We are excited to feature Austin counselors and founders of Vibe Tribe ATX, Alyssa Cornett, LMFT and Sara Paules, LPC. Sara and Alyssa created Vibe Tribe ATX out of their shared passion for helping women build community.

 

“What our ancestors once depended on from many different people in their tribe, we now are expected to achieve on our own. Our brain is still wired for connection in this isolating new world of ours and wrecks havoc on our mental, emotional and physical health when we aren't connecting with each other. Loneliness is a signal that we need to connect with a tribe, and we want to help you find yours.”

 

Vibe Tribe ATX is reaching the community through a six-part workshop series called Soul Sunday. The workshops are a safe space for soulful women to come and experience authentic support and engage in insightful discussions about real life issues while building deep relationships with each other. The next Soul Sunday, Mindfulness + Self Compassion, is coming up next week, and the last two workshops for the year will explore healing from trauma/difficult life experiences, as well as creating boundaries and good communication skills with difficult people.  

Register for Mindfulness + Self Compassion here!

Keep reading to find out more about Sara and Alyssa's counseling and therapy practices and their work with Vibe Tribe ATX.

Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.

Alyssa: I'm a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in relationship coaching and couples counseling. I help individuals and couples journey through their interpersonal and relational challenges to build healthier, happier, more fulfilling lifestyles and relationships. I find so much joy in helping others build confidence and competency to reach for the life they've envisioned!

Sara: I'm a mindfulness-based Licensed Professional Counselor & EMDR therapist, and I work primarily with women who are struggling with depression, body image, bipolar disorder, sexual trauma and suicidality. Clients tend to describe me as compassionate, kind, relatable, and direct in my approach... and a little bit goofy.

 Alyssa & Sara of Vibe Tribe ATX

Alyssa & Sara of Vibe Tribe ATX

How can people benefit from what you offer?

Alyssa: Many people wait to come to counseling until they are in a space of heightened distress, but I encourage people to seek support at ANY time in their lives. My clients benefit from building a healthier sense of self and in turn strengthening the relationship with themselves, others and their passions!

Sara: Some of our life events & stories can be difficult to relive and talk about. I believe that each time we tell our stories to a compassionate listener, we take back a little more of our power & control.  I help women in therapy to heal past traumas so they can feel happier and more empowered in their lives.

What are your passions?

Alyssa: When I'm not in the therapy office, you can find me doing anything outside, hiking the greenbelt, enjoying some delicious yums on a patio, traveling and adventuring anywhere and everywhere I can (local and afar!), or sipping some coffee while reading a good book.

Sara: When I'm not in my therapist chair, I enjoy spending time with my family, cooking new recipes, gardening, meditation, yoga, staying inside to read a good book, getting some more acupuncture in (one of my favorite self-care activities), smudging everything around me, finding new crystals at Nature's Treasures… and admittedly, watching a little bit of trashy reality TV on the DL from time to time.

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What’s been your favorite part so far about working in your field?

Alyssa: Watching my clients find the courage and strength to discover their most authentic selves is by far my favorite! The journey looks different for everyone, but getting to share in my clients personal experience with it is the best part of the therapeutic process!

Sara: Seeing my clients come in each week and work so hard to heal, even when they don't feel like it. I learn so much from my clients about the power of human resiliency and strength after going through difficult situations.

What can people expect from working with you?

Alyssa: I offer individual therapy, couples counseling, and relationship coaching for individuals and couples at any stage of their life and/or relationship. I focus on helping individuals and couples strengthen their connections, deepen their passion and enhance their lives in a more fulfilling and meaningful way! Our work together is goal-oriented and systems based - I help my clients establish a direction and encourage growth through exploration, attentiveness, and action! Together we identify and address challenges in order to establish a greater sense of fulfillment and transformation.

Sara: In my own practice, I offer individual therapy and EMDR for individuals struggling with trauma, depression, bipolar disorder, body image and suicidality.

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Tell us about your journey in creating Vibe Tribe ATX!

Alyssa: Sara and I were so connected by the idea of bringing together a community of empowered women. We wanted to reignite an excitement to create and connect with others while also diving deeper into a more genuine sense of self. We decided that we wanted to help women do this by creating a safe space for soulful, insightful, supportive and authentic discussions with others through Soul Sunday.

Sara: I just remember sitting in on so many empowering and enlightening consultation groups for therapists and thinking, "These soul-filling, nourishing conversations need to be had with other women who aren't in our field.” Alyssa and I both had a similar vision of providing a space for women to come together in community to discuss some of life's most difficult topics, such as self care, relationships, trauma, depression and boundaries.

Why is it important for you to cultivate a community like Vibe Tribe ATX?

Alyssa: There just aren't enough judgement free zones for women to create authentic conversations and connections. Vibe Tribe gives them the space and freedom to thrive!

Sara: Women are expected to look, act, and be perfect starting from birth. It's so important that women have these types of safe communities where they can openly talk about important conversations without judgment.

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How can people connect with you?

We love to connect! Coffee, questions, connections, let's do it!

Vibe Tribe ATX

Sara Paules, LPC

Alyssa Cornett, LMFT


 

Wedding Planning is Stressful, Premarital Counseling Doesn’t Have to Be!

 
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We know that you have many options for premarital counseling in Austin. There’s weekly premarital counseling with a couples counselor, programs offered through a church, and a few premarital workshops around town. But what if you could spend the day with your partner in a beautiful, retreat-like setting learning all kinds of ways to set your marriage up for success?

Coming up in October, Austin Relational Wellness is holding the Creating Connection Couples Retreat. The one-day retreat is held on Saturday, October 20th in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. The venue is just a short drive outside the city to southwest Austin. It’s an inviting, comfortable space with beautiful grounds. Throughout the day, you’ll be able to enjoy the area, dine on delicious food and snacks, and sip on ice cold beverages.

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What to expect from our premarital couples retreat

We’ll begin our day with a light breakfast and coffee as we introduce ourselves, give you a chance to get to know one another a bit through a couples game, and set our intentions for the day. Then we’ll dive into an exercise to help you get a sense of the strength and growth areas in your relationship. Next, we’ll teach you about many of the things that contribute to healthy, sound marriages and do some activities to figure out what that means for your own relationship.

During our break for lunch, you’ll have a chance to connect with your partner alone as you enjoy the grounds during a couples picnic… blankets and baskets included! After lunch, you’ll learn about a concept surrounding certain needs that we all have in relationships. We’ll help you figure out your own needs, as well as your partner’s, and do some activities to help you get a better understanding of what these look like for each of you.

Because every relationship has conflict, the next part of our day will focus on communication and conflict management. We’ll teach you some evidence-based techniques to help with communicating during conflict. We’ll incorporate all that we’ve learned about needs to help you each learn to ask for what you need in a positive way so that you can be the very best partners you can be to one another.

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Breaks will be built in throughout the day to give you a chance to enjoy the location, mingle with other couples, dine on snacks, play a few yard games, and just have some down-time. We’re also excited to offer a couples massage lesson. This portion of the day gets you out of your head and connected with your partner to teach you ways to increase closeness and affection. Our licensed massage therapist will give a group lesson on basic massage techniques that you can use to help meet your partner’s needs. Comfy clothes are a must for this part of our day!

We’ll wrap up by focusing on your vision for the future of your relationship, including pre-planning some future date night ideas. By creating this vision, you’ll be able to take what you’ve learned and apply it to your relationship going forward.

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If you’re looking for an alternative to premarital counseling in Austin, our couples retreat is a great fit for you! You can find more information and reserve your spot for our next retreat here.


 

2 Things to Know About Relationships | Tips From an Austin Marriage Counselor

 
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Here are 2 things you need to know about relationships this week, from turning towards your partner to the importance of social connection and relationships.


Couples who are better at doing this one thing stay married

John Gottman is a major influencer in the couples counseling and marriage therapy world. He’s been researching what makes marriages work, and not work, for over 30 years and has been known to predict divorce with over 90% accuracy just by observing a couple during the first three minutes of meeting.

Gottman revolutionized the study of marriage and has created a therapeutic model that helps couples repair troubled relationships and strengthen happy ones. Our couples therapists are trained in the Gottman Method, and we use the method with our couples who seek out marriage and relationship counseling.

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This article explains the importance of the third level of Gottman’s Sound Relationship House Theory, Turn Towards Instead of Away. This concept can be simply explained as the way we respond to our partner’s bids for connection, whether it be through affection, attention, or another positive connection. In the study described in the article, researchers followed up with participants and found that newlywed couples who were still married after six years turned towards one another 86% of the time, while couples who had divorced averaged turning towards only 33%.

Check out the full read for more details on how you can turn towards your partner.

New study found loneliness is worse for your health than obesity

As counselors, we believe in the importance of healthy relationships and the value of remaining socially connected. As humans, we’re meant to relate to other people and live in community, but social isolation and loneliness are on the rise in our culture.

In a recent study, Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a researcher and professor of psychology, found that “a greater social connection” cuts a person’s risk of early death by 50%. She also looked at the role that loneliness, social isolation, and living alone played in a person’s lifespan and found each factor was as much, if not more, of a threat to a person’s health as obesity. All three conditions were found to be detrimental to health and significantly raised the risk of premature death.

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“According to AARP’s Loneliness Study conducted in 2010, 35 percent of Americans age 45 and older are suffering from chronic loneliness — which equates to about 43 million people. Similarly, half the country’s adult population is unmarried and more than a quarter live alone, according to U.S. census data.”

Read the full articles for more info on the important effects of loneliness on our physical and mental health.


At Austin Relational Wellness, we believe in the power of social connection and healthy relationships. We’re passionate about helping Austin couples strengthen their relationships. Looking for an Austin marriage counselor or couples therapist? Contact us to find out if our therapists are a good fit for your relationship.


-Cat


 

4 Austin Summer Date Ideas to Improve your Marriage

 
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It’s summertime! Time for sun, time for water, time for vacations, time for family, and a great time to nurture your marriage or relationship.

Prioritizing spending quality time with one another on a regular basis is important for your relationship. But how can you go about nurturing your relationship this summer? It’s not always enough just to be together in the same space. It’s also important to connect purposefully. Planning a weekly date where you can have that meaningful connection without all the added distractions of kids, family, work, and outside stress is one way to create a space for meaningful connection.

This summer, make your marriage a priority. Set aside time to go on dates, build your friendship, and truly enjoy one another.

How to plan meaningful dates

When you sit down to plan your next date, try thinking about what type of connection your relationship really needs at the moment. What have you been missing? Do you need time to talk about the things you’re looking forward to or the things that have really been stressing each of you out lately? Do you need to leave all of that behind and just have fun together without worrying about anything else? Do you need to get outside since you’ve both been cooped up doing house chores lately?

Next, consider the ways the environment or atmosphere might affect your relationship need. Wherever you go, it’s important to make sure you’ll be able to have the type of connection you and your partner need. Will you be able to hear one another in the space or will it be too loud and chaotic? Will the TVs at a sports bar be a distraction if you’re really needing a quiet space to talk? Is the environment too stuffy for you to be able to let loose together?

Need some Austin date ideas?

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Dine at El Mesón Tequilería

  • Good if you need: A space to slow down and talk to one another without distractions
  • Atmosphere: Laid back, dim lighting, and great service
  • Favorites: The no-mix, fresh margaritas!
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Take mural photos

  • Good if you need: To save money, to go on an adventure, and to be creative
  • Atmosphere: Sunshine and time together in the car
  • Favorites: Discovering new places along the way and enjoying the photos long after it’s over
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Float the San Marcos river

  • Good if you need: A couple of hours to chat, to soak up some sun, and to work together
  • Atmosphere: Peaceful and relaxing on weekdays, and a little wild on the weekends
  • Favorites: Prettiest float in Central Texas, laid back people, and helping each other through the rapids
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Go watch a roller derby bout

  • Good if you need: Some excitement and a unique experience
  • Atmosphere: High-energy, fun, and a pretty gnarly
  • Favorites: All the creative player names and tough ladies!

Check out 4 Austin Date Ideas to Improve your Marriage for more Austin area date ideas!

Looking to do some marriage counseling in Austin? Contact us for a free 15-minute phone consult.


-Hannah


 

4 Books Every Couple Should Read

 
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As couples therapists, we work with people who are focused on improving their relationships. While important work is done during our sessions, it’s limited to 50 minutes every 1-2 weeks. If you aren’t attending regular couples therapy sessions, but still want to work on your relationship, there are many books available to help couples learn new ways to examine and strengthen their relationships. These books describe philosophies, tools, and techniques that couples can also practice between counseling sessions.

Here are 4 of my top picks of books to help you improve your marriage or relationship.


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The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert

By John M. Gottman PhD & Nan Silver

John Gottman is a total rockstar in the couples counseling world and has done such extensive research that he has been able to observe the habits that can make—and break—a marriage. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is a culmination of his research, and it covers the seven principles that guide couples toward harmonious and long-lasting relationships. The book is very straightforward and teaches couples the principles, as well as new approaches for resolving conflicts, finding new common ground, and deepening intimacy.

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Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love

By Sue Johnson

Dr. Sue Johnson is another lead researcher in the world of marriage counseling. She’s also the developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy. Emotionally Focused Therapy views the love relationship as an attachment bond, an idea that was once controversial, but is now supported by science and widely popular among therapists.

In Hold Me Tight, Dr. Sue Johnson presents Emotionally Focused Therapy to the masses. Johnson teaches that the way to save and enrich a relationship is to reestablish safe emotional connection and preserve the attachment bond. With attachment bonds in mind, she focuses on key moments in a relationship and uses them as the basis for seven healing conversations. The book includes case studies from her practice, helpful advice, and practical exercises for couples to learn how to nurture their relationships and ensure a lifetime of love.

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The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships

By Suzanne Stabile

We love the Enneagram at Austin Relational Wellness. The Enneagram is a powerful and dynamic personality system describing nine distinct and fundamentally different personality types. The nine types have different patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting. As you discover your personality type and how it colors your view of the world, you’ll also discover what motivates you, your coping strategies, and keys to personal development.

The Enneagram becomes especially handy in relationships when we are stuck feeling so different from our partners. This book from Suzanne Stabile is on the nine Enneagram types and how they behave and experience relationships. This book will help you understand more about yourself, your type, and others’ personalities so you can have healthier and more meaningful relationships.

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Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find - and Keep - Love

By Amir Levine and Rachel Heller

We approach marriage counseling using an attachment theory lens. Through this lens, we look at relationships with caregivers to see the ways we carry patterns of these relationships with us into other adult relationships. So, is there a science to how love works?

In Attached, Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel Heller scientifically explain how these evolutionary influences continue to shape who we are in our relationships. According to attachment theory, every person behaves in relationships in one of three distinct ways: anxious, avoidant, or secure. This book helps you discover how an understanding of adult attachment—the most advanced relationship science in existence today—can help us find and sustain love.


And if you decide you need a marriage counselor in Austin, we can point you in the right direction!



-Cat