Counselling Services in Calgary

Sometimes, on the pathway of life, you may encounter challenges or obstacles that interfere with your enjoyment of the journey. At times like this, it can be very helpful to work with a psychologist – a travel companion – who can help you discover new ways of looking at things, new skills to manage situations and new resources that can add to the richness of your experience.

Individual or couple therapy can be a gift you give yourself. I would welcome your call if you would like to speak with me about how I might be able to help.

Calgary Couples Counselling

It is common for couples going to therapy to have mixed emotions about choosing to attend. On the one hand, they want their relationship to improve; on the other hand, they may worry that their relationship is in serious trouble if they go to a psychologist. They may worry that they will be blamed for the problems in their relationship. Many couples make a joint decision to seek therapy to address issues that are interfering with their happiness. It is not unusual for one partner to suggest therapy and the other partner to agree to go, either willingly or reluctantly. The choice to receive professional marriage counselling or couples therapy shows a strong commitment to working through hard times and a desire to create a healthier relationship. The majority of happy couples, especially those who have been together for a long time, consistently say that relationships require a lot of work. Those same couples typically admit that the attention they invest in nurturing their relationships is more than worth the effort, and that some of the hard times they went through together made their relationships stronger.

Professional marriage counselling can be helpful and effective in a variety of situations. Sometimes couples get into a rut of taking each other for granted and their marriage loses its spark and romance. A professional therapist can help a couple re-ignite their passion and renew their commitment to one another. In other situations, something more serious such as an affair can require immediate assistance in order to have a reasonable chance of rebuilding trust and recovering the marriage. Working as a marriage counsellor in Calgary for over 20 years, I have helped couples deal with diverse circumstances.

Every couple encounters situations where they disagree. In some cases, couples find it difficult to manage stressful circumstances that are occurring in their lives and they end up fighting with each other. In other situations, external factors which seem to be out of their control (e.g., relationships with in-laws, career demands, responsibilities of parenting children with special needs) can contribute to endless battles. Differing values and beliefs, and religious or cultural differences can be possible sources of conflict. Same-sex couples encounter unique stressors that can add to possible conflict in their relationship. Regardless of the apparent causes of the issues, in most cases the underlying problem is ineffective communication between partners. Couple therapy can help people learn how to talk and listen to each other, gain a better understanding of each other and develop better ways of resolving conflict when it arises.

Marriage Counselling in Calgary

In my work in Calgary as a registered psychologist and marriage counsellor, I have noticed that couples tend to go through stages as their relationship matures. Each stage offers its own blessings and challenges. If a couple chooses to have children, parenting can add another layer of blessings and challenges to the mix. In the beginning stage of a relationship, sometimes called the "honeymoon stage", couples are enchanted with each other and go out of their way to make a good impression. Later, it is common for couples to experience disillusionment when they realize the partner they have chosen isn't as perfect as they had first thought. Couples can get into power struggles as they try to balance being an individual with maintaining a healthy couple relationship. It is true that long-term, successful marriages require consistent attention, but the process can be a wonderful experience.

As the relationship evolves through different stages, couples may find it difficult to adapt effectively with the changes. The choice to attend professional marriage counselling can help couples achieve a new, clearer understanding of how the other partner thinks and feels. Understanding and acceptance of the fact that we are all different can be a starting point for improving the relationship. Instead of looking at differences as annoyances, couples can learn to celebrate the differing gifts that each partner brings to the relationship.

There are some things that can be "deal breakers". A relationship cannot be healthy if any kind of violence is occurring (e.g., emotional, physical, sexual or financial abuse). If either partner is struggling with addictions (e.g., alcohol, drugs, internet pornography or other sex addictions, or gambling), it always includes a betrayal of trust. If either partner is having an affair and is unwilling to end that relationship, it is impossible to work on the primary relationship successfully. In all these situations, the partners need to change their damaging behaviors if they want to create a healthy relationship. If the couple decides or discovers that one or both of them are unwilling or unable to change harmful behaviours, they may choose to end their relationship instead of continuing to live in an unhealthy situation. Couples therapy can help people decide whether or not they are able to rebuild trust (which involves stopping the inappropriate behavior, making amends for the hurt that has inflicted on others and learning better ways to manage their stress). Sometimes, ending the relationship can be the best decision for individuals to save themselves.

I have been offering marriage counselling in Calgary for over 20 years. I have helped a large number of couples to improve their relationships, to save their marriages or to end them in a healthy way. The choice to work with a marriage counsellor can be a step in the right direction.

For more information, please contact Registered Psychologist Dr. Beth Balshaw.