Why Online Support Works

Online Support Groups – a great way to connect and receive the help you need.

In this day and age, with the access of technology, whenever we need information, we can immediately get it. We search what we don’t understand online, and can get everything we could need.

It’s practical to also be able to get information and support online as well. If you’ve been in a support group or individual/couple therapy, you know that therapy works because you can have a confidential relationship with a neutral party who isn’t emotionally involved with you. Therapy helps with gaining another perspective, and hearing messages and strategies differently. It allows you to observe and learn about other parts of yourself from another angle by learning and listening to others.

I have been facilitating in-person groups for over 15 years. Many of the people I work with are professionals who have very busy lives with kids, demanding jobs, and travel. It’s hard to get away and find time to take care of ourselves especially when we’re going through a crisis and need more support than usual.

My motto is…

“Get the support you need and live the life you want.”

I also believe in walking the walk and talking the talk.
I think people can get through anything if they have the right kind of support.

If you can’t get out of the office or spare a night to attend an in-person group, you can still do the work you need to do to transform your life from the loss in your separation/divorce, even if you wanted it.

My online groups are lunchtime Zoom meetings. They are confidential. I meet with every member of the group prior to joining so I know their history and how to support them best. We privately explore together whether or not this kind of support is ideal for them before they can join. Support is critical. Breaking the isolation during the time of a separation/divorce is essential. It’s hard to relate to your life and the people in your life like you used to.

As people, we need to be around like-minded people to completely transform the way we live and find a new way to live now. This is an active choice. You will work to figure out how you’re going to live now. You won’t just survive; you will thrive. Even if you didn’t want the divorce, you still have a choice now about how you feel and how you will move forward.

Take care of yourself and give yourself the opportunity to stay connected with people going through something similar. Process things together, and analyze situations a bit differently.

Grieve, learn, heal, and create a new vision.

In case the technology seems intimidating, new members will also attend a practice group session with me to work out the kinks before our sessions actually start. The groups are rich, and we will discuss many topics and themes together. It will be a transition to switch from working in-person to online for many, but once you familiarize yourself with it, you’ll find the same depth of connection and ability to relate to me and other group members.

Take care of yourself and get some support. 

Go out and live the life that you want.

Contact us today for more information.
susanmreganmft@gmail.com

Communicating Exits: Time Together – Time Apart

We all need personal time and space. This may mean alone time, or time with just our friends. Sometimes, fear of hurting, abandoning or rejecting your partner can make it hard to say, "I need some time alone." Over time, this can leave you feeling depleted or resentful. Or it can have the opposite of the intended effect - you stay home with your spouse or partner, but avoid contact. One of you watches TV downstairs while the other is upstairs on the computer. 

Bringing your need for time into the open and having a thoughtful discussion about how each of you can feel taken care of helps. Let your partner know how much you love them. Empathize with any feelings of rejection. Ask for advice - ways you can get your needs met too. Explain how time alone or time with friends recharges you in a different way from your couple relationship.

The amount of time you spend in and out of the relationship can be negotiated and compromised. Empathy is often the key.

*The concept of communicating exits is composed in Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples, written by Harville Hendricks and Dr. Helen Hunt.

If you would like to learn more about how you can begin therapy, or have any questions please call 415-563-4342 or 510-883-9312, or email me directly at susanmreganmft@gmail.com.

 

Susan Regan, MFT has offices in Berkeley near El Cerrito and Oakland and in San Francisco, close to the Civic Center and Nob Hill. 415-563-4342 or 510-883-9312.

When To Seek Therapy For A Divorce Process

 

Divorce With Dignity is a divorce facilitation service with the goal of getting people through their divorce in a holistic, cooperative, peaceful, and cost-effective way.

One of the benefits we offer our clients is referrals for additional services they may need to make the divorce a smoother transition. For example, some clients may be in situations where they have a need to seek therapy or counseling during the divorce process. In these cases, we refer them to professionals like Susan Regan, MFT. Susan is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, who is also trained as a Mediator. We asked Susan to share her thoughts on when it would be appropriate to seek therapy when going through a divorce.

Divorce is difficult for everyone, but what are the signs that someone may need some professional counseling, therapy, or mediation to deal with divorce issues?

There are many situations that call for professional help when working through a divorce. Some of these are -
• mental instability on the part of either spouse
• depression / thoughts of suicide
• addiction issues
• learning how to co-parent in changing circumstances
• when one spouse is incapable of caring for the children
• unemployment / fear of dependency
• changing roles, such as one spouse becoming the stay-at-home parent or going out into the workforce
• when one spouse feels that the other one is trying to control them
• abusive behavior toward the spouse or the children

I want to draw attention to the issue of depression and suicidal thoughts or statements. If one partner is potentially suicidal, it can make the other partner feel trapped into staying in the relationship. They may feel like they can't leave without the threat of the other person doing self harm. In this case, professional therapy on several levels is called for.

I'd also like to say more about abusive behavior situations. When people try to leave an abusive partner, it's an incredibly sensitive and fragile time for them. They want to know, “How can I leave and still be safe?” If they rush out and file for divorce, that can start an explosion in the family, and people become much more vulnerable in these situations.

Instead of rushing into things, it's wise to get help to plan how to separate in a less explosive way. With a professional therapist or mediator, they will have someone managing the discussion, assuring both parties that they will be involved in the decisions and can have some say about how and when the divorce happens. This can cool down a potentially volatile situation, and helps both parties to feel more settled and that their concerns are being heard.

If the couple has children, I can talk with the kids about the divorce and also about their parents' behavior toward them. This provides an opportunity to help the parents address any behavioral issues that need modification as they become divorced co-parents.

If there is a control or abuse issue in the spousal relationship, the day when the person moves out or comes back to get their stuff can be tense and possibly explosive. It's important to have some support people there to help keep things under control.

With the help of legal and counseling professionals, planning a divorce can take some of the explosiveness and unpredictability out of the situation, and put a damper on the drama.

What are the main benefits that can be gained from therapy during and after a divorce?

During the divorce, it helps the couple have actual discussions instead of having shouting matches or making unilateral decisions. Negotiated agreements may not get each person exactly what they want, but will get them an agreement they both can feel comfortable with.

Therapy or counseling sessions can also help people navigate the transition to their new roles and circumstances. They can learn how to reinvent their lives, check in with me about their kids and how they are doing after the divorce, and get co-parenting counseling.

If you would like to learn more about how you can begin therapy, or have any questions please call 415-563-4342 or 510-883-9312, or email me directly at susanmreganmft@gmail.com.

Reciprocity: Healthy Ideas for Couples

Giving and receiving is essential in long-term adult relationships.

But in some instances it can feel like one person gives too much. In healthy relationships, each person is in charge of their needs, emotions and responses. It's okay to say no - even if the other person gets disappointed. And it's okay to get disappointed. It doesn't mean the other person has to feel guilty or change their mind.

Signs that you're out of balance:

  • You give all the time in your marriage and with your family.
  • Communication is not explicit - there's a lot of guessing and assuming.
  • There is competition or a "tit for tat" with people keeping score - for example "I made the dinner so you have to do the dishes."
  • Love gets confused with needing or being needed
  • Love becomes conditional

If you're experiencing any of these things - or your relationship just doesn't feel reciprocal, it's time to make a change. We all need to feel appreciated, valued, cared for, wanted and loved. Receiving these things is like filling your emotional bank account. When you have plenty in the bank, the little things just don't bug you so much.

How do you fill up the bank?*

  • Show interest in your partner's life.
  • Keep up with the important things going on with their friends, work, extended family, hobbies and other activities.
  • Carve out time to talk with each other on a regular basis.
  • Take turns when talking.
  • Really listen to your partner.
  • Repeat back what you have heard, make comments, and ask questions.
  • Validate what your partner is feeling (you don't have to agree to understand).
  • Say positive things to you partner frequently.
  • Include your partner in what you do and think about daily.
  • For every negative comment you say, offer 5 positive statements to refuel the bank.

Words are not enough-
60% of communication is tone of voice 30% is body language and only 10% of is the actual content.
Speak gently; lean in to each other. Flirt and be playful when it's appropriate.

*John Gottman, PhD is world renowned for his work on marital stability and divorce prediction, involving the study of emotions, physiology, and communication. He developed breakthrough research on marriage therapy. He has a very concise way of explaining the concept of reciprocity.

If you would like to learn more about how you can begin therapy, or have any questions please call 415-563-4342 or 510-883-9312, or email me directly at susanmreganmft@gmail.com.

Co-Parent Counseling and the Personality Types

When there is personality conflict,
it's invaluable to have the help of a neutral third party
- someone who understands how divorce impacts everyone,
including parents and kids.

Co-parent Counseling benefits include:

  • Keeping focused on the children
  • Understanding kids' developmental needs
  • Helping kids adjust to the transition
  • Providing a neutral and emotionally safe place for parents to create a new relationship, based on the best interests of their kids.

Co-parent Counseling helps parents who have controlling personality types find safe, effective ways to communicate and get along better. It's good to have a calm place to talk outside of the legal arena.

While control issues may remain, understanding the effect on your kids can help you keep your conflict in check. Kids don't handle conflict well. Studies show that kids exposed to ongoing conflict in divorce have less success in future relationships, lower self-worth, and difficulty finding a sense of accomplishment.

For impaired parents, co-parenting therapy can facilitate a successful relationship between the impaired parent and child. Therapy can help increase independence and self-reliance. This new strength feels good to both the parent and the child. It ultimately fosters more closeness and connection between parent and child.

If you would like to learn more about how you can begin therapy, or have any questions about how to begin therapy please call 415-563-4342 or 510-883-9312, e-mail me directly, or if you are ready to schedule a consultation appointment click here.