Categories
Psychotherapy

Splitting – my partner seems hot and cold

Our relationships are complicated and ever-shifting. Dynamics between couples (and extended family and friends) are highly sophisticated and challenging. One moment your relationship can be a beacon of positivity, love and affection. And just like that… in the blink of an eye… it can feel like a tornado has hit.

Every couple experiences this in one way or another. But some experience the shift between ‘excellent’ and ‘terrible’ on a frequent basis and with no clear indication as to why.

This is called “splitting”. It is something we will now explore.

What is splitting?

Splitting is an ego defence mechanism. It is frequently found within intense, volatile relationships (which you can read more about here). It is where a person (the ‘splitter’) can only view the world around them (and everyone / everything in it) as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Nuances are hard to spot, and even trickier to navigate.

The splitter makes sense of their surroundings and experiences using black and white thinking. Often, this has been the case since childhood and develops due to inconsistencies in their primary caregiver.

The term “splitting” was first coined by Ronald Fairbairn when he formulated Object Relations Theory. It is thought to begin in infancy, when a child is struggling to combine a mix of loving fulfilment and unresponsiveness within an individual caregiver. As an adult, a person who splits promotes a highly emotional and defensive state where only good or evil exist – without the nuances and grey areas that make up so much of life. This toxic attitude can quickly be contagious.

One of the symptoms of splitting is being ‘hot and cold’. And this is the focus of this article.

Hot and Cold behaviour as a defence

Being hot (loving, warm, present) and then quickly shifting to cold (absent, argumentative, emotionally switched off) can be a defence mechanism used by the splitter. It is a way of them keeping emotional distance, testing your commitment or could be a reaction to fear of the relationship or general insecurity. It can also be an intense reaction to something that has been said or done by the other party that doesn’t fully align with the splitter’s expectations.

For example. Let’s say Jo is splitting. She is married to Harvey.

Harvey and Jo are having a joyous day doing some gardening and cooking together. There has been no conflict. Everyone is happy. Harvey mentions he might see his friend Paul that evening. Jo instantly goes from smiling to angry yelling. She storms off and then stonewalls Harvey for the rest of the afternoon. She is impossible to reason with and says extreme sentences like “You don’t love me”. Harvey cancels his plans because the situation at home has gone sour very quickly, and Jo spends the evening hugging and kissing Harvey, as though nothing happened earlier.

This is splitting.

Jo was so intimidated and fearful of Harvey wanting to see someone other than her, that she switched from hot to cold in an instant.

There are lots of reasons Jo might have done this, which is why individual psychotherapy and couples therapy is so important to explore the specific dynamics.

“I hate you don’t leave me”

There are varying levels of intensity in the splitting dynamic, but in some cases, splitting can be a sign of Borderline Personality Order (BPD). People with BPD can set up an approach-avoidance conflict, a “get-away-closer” style of trying to relate to others. It is essentially them saying I hate you don’t leave me”. Any perceived withdrawal of closeness of intimacy can be a fundamental threat to the safety of the person with BPD. It causes a whirlwind of unregulated emotion that is often cyclical between ‘get closer to me’ and ‘you’re terrible, get away”.

In Jo’s case, she could be so profoundly terrified of abandonment, that she demonises Harvey until he is back in her arms again, then causing her more future anxiety about him leaving – and so the pattern continues.

Is hot and cold behaviour abusive?

The above scenario could easily be viewed as psychological abuse towards Harvey. He became so fearful of the extreme reaction Jo was having, that he isolated himself from his friend. He was essentially manipulated due to the profound lack of communication between the pair. But we must also be sympathetic to Jo’s situation. Her inner torture and poor sense of self cannot be easy to live with or manage.

Whether you identify with Harvey or Jo, therapy can help. It can also create a safe space where ‘splitting’ is identified head on and encouraged away from the dynamic – replaced with a healthier sense of individuality and security.

Getting the support you need

I offer you acute couples counselling, couples therapy and individual psychotherapy based on your preferences, either online, at your place, or at my clinics in Østerbro or Svendborg.

We can also go for a walk.

My pledge

Whichever help and support you need, my pledge to you is consistent.

Next step

Book a free 15 minute conversation, which is all you need to begin your journey. We will talk about where you are now, where you want to be, and how I can help you get there.

Categories
Psychotherapy

May you record your therapy session?

In a digitized world, it is considered normal and common to want to integrate our technology into our everyday life. After all, 6.6 billion people now have a smartphone and we tend to conduct every area of our daily living via our device – shopping, banking, socialising, and yes, you guessed it, even therapy.

In my practise, smart technology and the internet allow me to connect with people around the world, day or night, with location being no boundary to great therapy.

You can read more about therapy on subscription and how this integrates with technology here.

But when I am asked if individual tech can be brought into the therapy session, such as a recording device, a boundary is set.

Let’s explore this together.

Why do clients want to record sessions?

There could be a myriad of reasons you wish to record our sessions together, whether it be an audio or video. Some of these are:

  • Emotional distance / disconnect. You may feel more in control and emotionally stable if you know you are being recorded.
  • Proof. This is especially true in couples’ sessions. You may want to catch your partner saying something on audio and hold them to it later, or use it as proof in divorce or family proceedings. You may also want to use it as proof that I have said something, out of fear or distrust in me as the therapist.
  • Listen back later. You may want to reflect on the session in your own time by listening back on what was said.

All of these reasons are understandable. But they also hinder the therapy process. So let’s now address why recording a session on your device is not appropriate.

Confidentiality

As a therapist I am duty bound to uphold confidentiality. I make and keep meticulous files and protect your data in accordance with the standard of ethics that underpins my practise. Once you make an audio or video recording of our session, confidentiality is compromised. I have no control over what happens to that file, and it could end up in the wrong hands. You may ask – “If I’m talking about myself, surely confidentiality doesn’t matter if I’m comfortable having the audio?”. But it doesn’t work like that. In therapy, we talk about much more than just you – we talk about your family, relationships, background, traumas – lots of names and dates and personal information is shared and I would never want this information compromised.

Abuse / blackmail and manipulation

If you are in a couples’ session, one of you might record the session to then use against the other party. Let’s explore an example of this. Let’s say Chris and Joe are in therapy talking about a diminished sex life. Chris records the conversation initially with the intention of listening to it with Joe later on as a reflection exercise. Joe admits he has had an affair with his boss, Kevin, who is married to a woman. In desperation and pain, Chris then threatens to send the therapy recording to Kevin’s wife, thus ‘outing’ Kevin, humiliating Chris and sabotaging their careers.

Dangerous stuff, right?

As a side note, it is often a red flag when a person wants to record their partner in any context – not just therapy. It is better that this temptation is explored, and not entertained or encouraged.

Lack of authenticity

What happens in the room, and in the moment, between a therapist and client is important in achieving good therapy outcomes. A recording device between me and you will only serve as an emotional barrier. You may not say everything you wish to say because the recording device is present. The therapy room is a safe space and you should not feel monitored or controlled by a device.

Reflections are good – But not like that

You may want to listen to our session back at a later date for reflection purposes. This shows a real motivation to positive change. While reflection is good and encouraged, this method can be dangerous. Listening to our therapy outside of the context of the session can lead to misinterpretation, or an overreliance on something I have said. It is best that we stick to communicating in person, directly, in specified time slots. If you wish to make notes, you can do, and this will help you reflect. Alternatively, if you have a therapy subscription, you can contact me after the session to reflect together.

Getting the support you need

I offer you acute couples counselling, couples therapy and individual psychotherapy based on your preferences, either online, at your place, or at my clinics in Østerbro or Svendborg.

We can also go for a walk.

My pledge

Whichever help and support you need, my pledge to you is consistent.

Next step

Book a free 15 minute conversation, which is all you need to begin your journey. We will talk about where you are now, where you want to be, and how I can help you get there.

Categories
Psychotherapy

Splitting – I am being bullied at work

A 2020 British workplace study showed that 23% of workers shared that they have been bullied at work. Broader studies have shown that as many as 64% of surveyed respondents claimed to have experienced this, either through being physically hurt, driven to tears, or had their work performance affected.

Given that most of us spend a significant percentage of our lives in the workplace, being bullied within this context is bound to take its toll. And so what can be done about it?

Walking away from this form of bullying is easier said than done when so many life factors are affected by our livelihoods.

Let’s explore this together.

What does bullying at work look like?

Signs that you are being bullied at work can include:

  • Dreading going to work out of fear of humiliation, criticism, and excessive and disproportionate workloads.
  • Feeling intimidated, afraid or undermined by a particular person.
  • Missing out on opportunities given to others.
  • Feeling like no effort is big enough, that no work is good enough.
  • Feeling as though the ‘goal posts’ are frequently moving – any target you reach is automatically made harder, so that you never achieve anything.
  • Feeling isolated from groups of workers, gossiped about, or left out of social events.
  • Not having a voice in meetings, being spoken over, feeling silenced.
  • Being blamed for things that were not your fault, or having your work scrutinised more than others.
  • And much more…

Sometimes, bullying in the workplace happens as a consequence of ‘splitting’, which we will now explore in more depth.

What is splitting in the workplace?

Splitting is the tendency of some people to view others as all-good or all-bad. The term was first coined by Ronald Fairbairn when he formulated Object Relations Theory. It is thought to begin in infancy, when a child is struggling to combine a mix of loving fulfilment and unresponsiveness within an individual caregiver. As an adult, a person who splits promotes a highly emotional and defensive state where only good or evil exist – without the nuances and grey areas that make up so much of life. This toxic attitude can quickly be contagious in the workplace.

I usually call this “A/B thinking, or a use of language that contains lots of “always” or “never”, as well as “all” or “nothing”. These are simple “tells” to look for in someone’s choice of words.

Splitting in the workplace encourages extreme, all-or-nothing positions and frequently involves projection, for example, labelling other people as being “angry” in the ways that those doing the labelling are actually being angry themselves.

In the workplace, splitting can create a bullying culture against one individual, driving them out of the workplace or into a position of submission through encouraging others to think of him/her as ‘all bad’.

It can also cause the victim of splitting to struggle achieving rewards or positive praise, because their work is viewed as ‘always bad’, even when this is objectively not the case.  By setting a worker up to persistently fail, for example by creating impossible deadlines or overloading them with work, the ‘splitter’ then feels justified in their criticisms and subsequent punishing actions (e.g. denying that worker a pay rise).

Dealing with splitting at work

Noticing splitting can be incredibly difficult. Proving it can feel impossible. But having strong personal boundaries and assertiveness, you can tackle splitting head on, or, if you prefer, transition away from the toxic work environment altogether. It’s your choice.

Therapy is a good first step. We can talk about how you are experiencing work, who might be splitting, how this splitting is affecting you, and devise strategies to live with this or move away from it. Plus, if you sign up to my subscription for therapy, I can be there with you – at the end of a phone – to give you real-time help when splitting behaviours emerge.

How else can splitting show up?

It could be that you are reading this and have realised that you are the person splitting – or that you are splitting in response to someone else’s splitting. Signs that you might be splitting in the workplace include:

  • Refusing to believe your work could need improvement – thinking that the critique of your work is a vendetta against you.
  • Having strong emotional responses to feedback or constructive criticism.
  • Creating or feeding workplace dramas that will polarise people (e.g. starting a rumour).
  • Deliberately trying to get someone sacked.
  • Convincing yourself that everything is wrong, and that you need to correct it.
  • Jumping to conclusions, not allowing others to explain or justify decisions.
  • And much more…

If you are self employed, you can still split! You might fail to acknowledge the smaller details and nuances of your business, or deliberately overlook things you’d rather not deal with – focusing only on the ‘all good’. Entrepreneurs who split might have 20 failed businesses behind them or huge debts from where the splitting hides the negatives and focuses only on the positives.

As you can see, splitting takes many forms in the workplace context. If you are a victim of splitting or you yourself are splitting, I can help.

Getting the support you need

I offer you acute couples counselling, couples therapy and individual psychotherapy based on your preferences, either online, at your place, or at my clinics in Østerbro or Svendborg.

We can also go for a walk.

My pledge

Whichever help and support you need, my pledge to you is consistent.

Next step

Book a free 15 minute conversation, which is all you need to begin your journey. We will talk about where you are now, where you want to be, and how I can help you get there.

Categories
Psychotherapy

Splitting – My relationship feels really intense

Intensity in relationships can feel intoxicating, especially at the beginning. Passions are high, sex is new and you are constantly thinking or talking about your new love. But what happens when this intensity causes negative consequences such as anxiety, arguments or extreme anger? And what should you do if you get stuck in the cycle of ‘break up and make up’, as so many couples do?

In some cases, intensity occurs when a partner does something called ‘splitting’, which is a state of thinking and behaving in extremes, causing high emotions within the relationship dynamic. We are going to explore this now…

The All Or Nothing Mentality

If you have noticed any of the following communication patterns in your relationship, it could be time to seek some help in couples therapy.

These are:

  • Intense mood swings and fluctuations. If you, or your partner, are often worried about what might be said or done next, it’s a good idea to seek help. Or, you might be the person who experiences intense mood swings or has reactions that you feel are disproportionate. Again, seek help.
  • Your partner, or you, think in absolutes or divides concepts into two opposing camps, such as right / wrong, black / white.
  • Partner idealisation, followed by condemnation as time progresses. This is where you (or your partner) might go from being totally besotted by the other person, to becoming critical and dissatisfied by their lack of perfection later.
  • Your partner, or you, believes that everyone is either good or bad. There is no room for moral ambiguity.
  • Pushing toward people and then pulling away. This is a game you might play that tests one another’s love – creating a pattern of intense closeness followed by distance and withdrawal – which is them remedied with intense, and often sexual, closeness.
  • Your partner, or you, believe that someone with a different viewpoint is against them. They also don’t entertain the viewpoint and refuse to look into it.
  • A victim mentality. This is where you or your partner self-create victimhood, blaming the other partner for causing hurt, pain or discomfort.
  • You, or your partner, may think that, by making fun of those who think differently, you are somehow improving your self-esteem.
  • You, or your partner, may struggle keeping relationships, be it a friendship or a romantic partner. This is because if a friend or partner disagrees with you, they automatically become the enemy.
  • Always being right. We all experience being wrong sometimes. We are only human, after all. If you or your partner fail to self reflect on mistakes, this is a sign that the relationship (and the individual) needs some work.

All of the above is a form of ‘splitting’, which we will now explore further.

What is Splitting?

Splitting is a common ego defence mechanism. It is where a person sees the world in extreme opposites (good vs bad, positive vs negative).

For example, a woman might believe that all men are bad because of her personal experiences with men she has known. Or that if someone is angry with her, they cannot also be feeling love (because she can only see negative vs positive, rather than the two interacting simultaneously). She might think that if a partner wants time alone, it automatically means rejection. It is ‘all or nothing’ reasoning and fails to account for the wider nuances of life or the complexity of human interaction.

Most commonly, splitting is adopted in childhood as a coping mechanism. It can develop when a child is a unable to understand the confusing combination of nurturement and unresponsiveness in a caregiver. It can also be a response to trauma.

The Harm of Splitting

Failing to moderate emotions or consider the more nuanced aspects of communication can lead to a pattern of working only in extreme opposites. If someone tells you something negative about your partner that you didn’t know, splitting would cause you to immediately see them as ‘bad’ or ‘untrustworthy’. If your partner gets a new job that causes them to work away more, splitting mentality would have you think they are ‘leaving you’.

Working in the extremes can be exhausting for all involved and create a dishonest narrative within the relationship.

Splitting can also be seen as abusive to the non-splitting partner, as they may feel they have to walk on egg shells or be hyper alert to ‘triggering’ anger, aggression or extreme thinking in the splitting partner.

If any of this sounds familiar, please do not despair. I can help!

Getting the support you need

I offer you acute couples counselling, couples therapy and individual psychotherapy based on your preferences, either online, at your place, or at my clinics in Østerbro or Svendborg.

We can also go for a walk.

My pledge

Whichever help and support you need, my pledge to you is consistent.

Next step

Book a free 15 minute conversation, which is all you need to begin your journey. We will talk about where you are now, where you want to be, and how I can help you get there.

Categories
Psychotherapy

Do you receive Danish “overførselsindkomst” or less? Save 20% on therapy

Do you receive Danish “overførselsindkomst” or less? Save 20% on therapy

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Terms and conditions

This offer cannot be combined with other offers.

All sessions in this offer must be held online. If you wish to meet in my clinic, an added fee of 200 kr. will be added per meeting. This is to cover room rental.

Sessions will ideally be weekly.

Once booked, the sessions are non-refundable.

Excluded from this offer are the extras for evening and weekend sessions, as listed on the pricing page, as well as the cost of travelling to you.

If you invoke your refund rights, the previously held sessions are charged at the full rate, and the rest is reimbursed in accordance with the payment conditions on the pricing page.

Getting the support you need

I offer you acute couples counselling, couples therapy and individual psychotherapy based on your preferences, either online, at your place, or at my clinics in Østerbro or Svendborg.

We can also go for a walk.

My pledge

Whichever help and support you need, my pledge to you is consistent.

Next step

Book a free 15 minute conversation, which is all you need to begin your journey. We will talk about where you are now, where you want to be, and how I can help you get there.

Or contact me here

Categories
Psychotherapy

Are you stressed and unhappy? How to feel better quick

Difficult emotions like stress, sadness and anxiety are not uncommon. An alarming study has shown that 1 in 5 European workers experience work related stress and according to The World Health Organisation, 25% of Europeans are anxious or depressed.

I hold the view that difficult emotions can be good for us.

They help us to learn more about our boundaries, desires, fears and motivators. But when these emotions occur regularly, they can begin to take their toll on our mental, social and physical wellbeing.

Let me ask you a question. When you experience repetitive episodes of negative emotions, are there also some repetitive themes as to their cause? For example, do you find yourself frequently panicked about your job, or in states of deep sadness about relationships? Is there a common trigger that sets you off time and time again?

If the answer is yes, I’d like to explore this with you to break the negative pattern and inevitable build-up.

Proactive steps to feel better quickly

Let’s pretend you have a physical injury such as a repetitive stress injury in your wrist. You may begin to notice some mild symptoms, such as a slight ache when performing certain tasks. But you take no notice and carry on with your usual tasks. Over time, the injury to your wrist worsens because you have not changed any of your behaviours, and ultimately, it becomes so bad that you can no longer ignore it. You end up in agony, off work sick, taking painkillers and in physical therapy.

Your mental health can decline in a similar way. It could be that you do not seek help until the same problem has occurred over and over again. And only when you experience something like a nervous breakdown do you seek help – by which point, substantial damage has been done.

Now, let’s imagine you handle this differently. In the case of the hurt wrist, you could take measures to ensure the environment is altered to minimise the impact on your emerging injury (buy a wrist guard, get a wrist support for your computer etc). This prevents the injury from worsening and helps you avoid disaster. In the case of your mental health, if you seek some input when symptoms are mild – such as through therapy – you can resolve the core of the issue before your mental health escalates.

For example, one step might be to book a free 15 minute conversation to have a conversation with me. This step alone is a positive way to handle tricky emotions before they get the better of you.

Can therapy help with your problem?

It could be that you have no clue what’s causing your challenging emotions. Or, you may have a very good idea and aren’t sure how to change the circumstances. Either way, we can explore it together. During our 15 minute conversation, we can discuss your feelings and experiences and decide if therapy is the best course of action for you. It’s also a chance for you to ask questions, get to know me and explore whether you’d like per-session therapy or therapy on subscription. The key is to ensure you feel better quickly, without experiencing the potential downward spiral that can occur when emotions are left undealt with.

Getting the support you need

I offer you acute couples counselling, couples therapy and individual psychotherapy based on your preferences, either online, at your place, or at my clinics in Østerbro or Svendborg.

We can also go for a walk.

My pledge

Whichever help and support you need, my pledge to you is consistent.

Next step

Book a free 15 minute conversation, which is all you need to begin your journey. We will talk about where you are now, where you want to be, and how I can help you get there.

Categories
Psychotherapy

Planning out a divorce – get help so you miss as little as possible

 

Any divorce, whether it be mutually agreed or a unilateral decision, can be complicated both logistically and emotionally. Denmark has the fifth highest divorce rate in Europe, making it a commonly experienced challenge. If you are heading for divorce, it’s important to be mindful of these challenges and plan out the road ahead so that you both get the best possible outcome out of this truly difficult situation. Couples therapy can help.

Any couple facing divorce could be wise to consider the following with a trained and experienced psychotherapist.

The Logistics

As part of your divorce, you may need to consider a number of logistics, such as housing, childcare and finances. While family courts exist to assist in these matters, couples counselling can help you to manage these issues in a way that minimises conflict. You may even be able to avoid court altogether if you can use therapy to agree to matters privately.

Issues like childcare can be highly emotive, and require careful planning and discussion before an agreement is made. By sitting with an objective, neutral expert, you can talk through the hopes and fears surrounding any logistical issue, so that any legal matters are smoother (and cheaper).

The Emotions

Divorce is a loss. With loss, there are many feelings, and some of these quite contradictory and confusing. For example, you might feel an immense amount of sorrow about your relationship running its course, but you may also feel relief and elation about reaching this finishing line.

If your marriage has ended because of a specific incident, such as an affair, there may be very powerful, raw emotions that need to be acknowledged and dealt with in order to move forward. Similarly, if the divorce is a one-sided decision, there may be emotions like anger, disappointment and resentment within the party who wants to remain in the marriage.

There may also be complex emotions relating to culture and religion, both of which can profoundly influence the divorce experience.

Identifying emotions and regulating them in a healthy way can help you to heal during and after the divorce process, giving you and your partner the dignified and respectful parting you both deserve.

The Boundaries

What will life after divorce look like? Will you still communicate? If so, how? How will you manage the introduction of new partners to your children? Will you continue to share mutual friends and see each other’s families? To maintain good emotional health and avoid future conflict, it could be a good idea to establish these boundaries now. Couples therapy is an ideal space to explore these issues in a safe way.

Is Divorce Inevitable?

While you may sense your marriage is headed for divorce, in my experience, many couples manage to redirect this seemingly inevitable fate with the help of couples therapy. In some cases, the exploration of both partners’ feelings can open the relationship up to a more authentic connection. Many couples report that they enjoy a more intimate, truthful and connected marriage after therapy.

Conversely, in some cases, it is clear to all involved that divorce is the best possible course of action. Whichever outcome you decide on, I am here for you to ensure you move forward in a healthy, positive way.

Getting the support you need

I offer you acute couples counselling, couples therapy and individual psychotherapy based on your preferences, either online, at your place, or at my clinics in Østerbro or Svendborg.

We can also go for a walk.

My pledge

Whichever help and support you need, my pledge to you is consistent.

Next step

Book a free 15 minute conversation, which is all you need to begin your journey. We will talk about where you are now, where you want to be, and how I can help you get there.

Categories
Acute Couples Counselling Psychotherapy

Are you and your partner constantly arguing? Here’s how to break the negative cycle

Contrary to common belief, arguments are not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, research has shown that couples who have regular arguments are more likely to stay together.

Conflict and subsequent resolution can bring us closer and aid an understanding of one another’s boundaries.

 

It is how we argue that changes its influence on the relationship.

Let me demonstrate ways that the negative cycle starts, and suggest how to break a negative cycle of conflict. This transforms the cycle into a healthy, constructive form of communication.

What are we arguing about?
  1. Money

Money is said to be one of the most common topics of contention within a relationship. Secret spending, a change in financial status or disagreement on how money is allocated, are all potential instigators for a row to begin.

2. The children

Parents might disagree on how children should be raised or how to approach a challenging parenting situation. There may also be issues involving a step child or blended family unit. Whether or not to have more children can also cause tensions between couples.

3. Time together / Schedules

Sometimes, one partner can feel neglected or dissatisfied with the amount of quality time being spent together as a couple. Frequency of date nights, sexual intimacy, holidays or time spent with friends can cause arguments.

4. Future plans

When your relationship began, your future plans may have been aligned. But over time, people and circumstances can change. If you are no longer seeing eye to eye on what the future should look like, you could end up arguing.

5. Affairs / Secrets

If one of you has had an affair, or been deceitful or unfaithful in some way, this can cause tremendous rows and tensions – potentially for years. Healing from major impacting events is an important step in minimising these arguments and moving forward from them.

And there are, of course, many more. ‘Annoying’ habits, wider family problems, cultural differences, religious differences, and sexual disagreements are also very common topics for disagreement.

When arguments hurt

Like I said before, how you argue is important. I witness people’s argument styles frequently and have observed that most people fall into one of these categories:

  • The attacker – this is where a person makes an effort to verbally attack the other, pointing out why they are wrong and listing their annoyances.

For example:

Ben: I don’t think you should buy that expensive purse.

Amy: You always do this, you’re so tight with money, I can’t believe how mean, petty and controlling you are.

  • The defender – this is where a person spends much of their time defending their choices and actions when they perceive criticism.

For example:

Ben: I don’t think you should buy that expensive purse.

Amy: I deserve it. I have been working hard. I never buy myself anything. I am right to want this purse.

  • The withdrawer – this is where a hint of criticism can cause a person to emotionally and/or physically withdraw and avoid the conflict.

For example:

Ben: I don’t think you should buy that expensive purse.

Amy: I don’t want to talk about this. I’m going out.

Any of these argument styles can be harmful to a relationship and fuel a constant pattern of arguing. So, what can be done to change this?

When arguments are healing

Arguments arise because something is unresolved – whether that be with one another or within ourselves. Partners must identify the true cause of conflicts and align and work together to find a way forward.

When you attend couples therapy, you can learn to communicate with each other in an honest, nurturing way without an argument exploding. You can be supported in adapting your language to be less attacking / defensive / avoidant, and instead be more accountable and in ownership of your emotions. You can also make the space to properly hear your partner (and be heard) and benefit from a third ear in the room to help prevent misunderstandings.

At the end of it, you will have acquired skills that can transform future arguments from high-conflict and repetitive, to healthy and solution-orientated.

Getting the support you need

I offer you acute couples counselling, couples therapy and individual psychotherapy based on your preferences, either online, at your place, or at my clinics in Østerbro or Svendborg.

We can also go for a walk.

My pledge

Whichever help and support you need, my pledge to you is consistent.

Next step

Book a free 15 minute conversation, which is all you need to begin your journey. We will talk about where you are now, where you want to be, and how I can help you get there.

Categories
Psychotherapy

Should I tell my partner everything – when are secrets okay?

It’s no secret that many couples hide things from each other. In fact, research has shown that 1 in 5 people admit to keeping a major secret from their romantic partner. My question is, even though it is common, is secret-keeping ever ok?

What is a secret?

Put simply, a secret is something that is deliberately kept hidden or unexplained; and it’s no easy feat!

“I often don’t say this out loud, even when I should. I contain and compartmentalize to a disturbing degree: In my belly-basement are hundreds of bottles of rage, despair, fear, but you’d never guess from looking at me.”

“The bigger the lie, the more they believe it.”

Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl

Not only do we bury the secret, but pile story after story on top of it, until we ourselves become embroiled in our own fiction. Needless to say, secret-keeping can be messy business – not to mention hurtful for others. In my professional experience, though, this is exactly what people do.

There are many different kinds of secrets you might keep from your partner. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Financial. You might be hiding debt, a credit card, excessive spending, savings, or even your salary. Studies have shown that a fifth of us are keeping a financial secret.
  • Sexual. You might be concealing a sexual preference, a gender identity, a sexual problem or pregnancy / fertility issues.
  • Your past. There might be something from your past that you’d rather your spouse didn’t know, such as abuse, a relationship, a conviction, an addiction or just about anything you feel ashamed of.
  • An addiction. If you are drinking too much, secretly using substances or even suffering from a behavioural addiction like sex or shopping, you might hide this from your partner.
Why do we keep secrets?

There’s no simple explanation as to why we keep secrets. Some theories suggest it is a survival instinct – we keep secrets to keep ourselves ‘safe’ from negative consequences. In the context of a relationship, these consequences could include:

  • The relationship ending
  • Your partner becoming angry, lashing out or shouting
  • Revenge
  • Your partner experiencing hurt / heartbreak
  • Your partner putting a stop to what you’re doing when you don’t want to stop.

In other cases, revealing a secret can not only devastate your partner, but damage the very core of your identity and sense of self. Your secret might have impacts on your culture, your religion, your wider family and community. It’s understandable, therefore, that many people choose to bury the truth and uphold the lie – even if it means lying to ourselves.

Is secret keeping ever ok?

Some secrets, such as those described above, can have truly devastating consequences. For example, keeping debt as a secret could cause an immense build-up of financial problems that ultimately affect your partner’s life too. So often, people in debt don’t reveal the problem until their house in being repossessed, and at this point, the trust between partners has been catastrophically damaged.

You might be asking yourself – what if it’s just a small secret? Surely they are ok? Well… It depends. Because often, small secrets can easily turn into big ones.

By revealing small secrets early, we can avoid crisis. For example, if you are secretly flirting with a colleague and hiding your texts and emails from your spouse, you are covering up deeper relationship issues, which if left unaddressed, can lead to a full-blown affair and all the fall-out that comes with it. Prevention is better than cure, and if you feel yourself keeping small secrets, it is your responsibility to prevent them from snowballing into bigger problems.

What if the secret hurts nobody?

It is up to you how much you reveal to your partner. But, in my experience, if the secret causes pain (to you or to someone else) it needs to be dealt with. There are, of course, secrets that you may feel are harmless. In this instance, I might ask you – why do you feel the need to keep this secret? Could it develop into a harmful secret? And what is preventing you from being completely transparent? Another problem is that secret-keeping can compromise your dignity, self worth and congruence. My question might be, what are the consequences to you if you keep these secrets? Could they be symptomatic of ‘splitting’ (seeing the world in extremes) or reveal your true perspective on how y

Individual psychotherapy and couples therapy can help you to identify secrets, explore why you keep them, and decide the best way forward for yourself and for your relationship.

Getting the support you need

I offer you acute couples counselling, couples therapy and individual psychotherapy based on your preferences, either online, at your place, or at my clinics in Østerbro or Svendborg.

We can also go for a walk.

My pledge

Whichever help and support you need, my pledge to you is consistent.

Next step

Book a free 15 minute conversation, which is all you need to begin your journey. We will talk about where you are now, where you want to be, and how I can help you get there.

Categories
Psychotherapy

Are you an addict? Even to something other than a substance?

In 2018, it was estimated that 5.4% of the global population experienced addictions to illegal drugs.

In Denmark, 15.4% of adults between 16 and 34 have used drugs. 66% of this group use cannabis, and 16% take cocaine. Source; European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, 2019

While this data is important, it’s also crucial to remain aware that addiction can be about much more than drug use, which we will explore together now.

What is addiction?

Addiction is a complex, multifaceted state of being that affects every affected person in a unique way. If you think you might be an addict, but don’t fall into the addiction stereotypes, it’s still worth us exploring this together.

More often than not, we correlate addiction with illegal substance misuse or alcoholism. But in reality, you can become addicted to anything – including behaviours and people – and any addiction can be detrimental to your wellbeing and that of those around you.

Some of the most common and easily-spotted addictions are:

  • Alcohol. With alcohol being so readily available and legal in most countries, it is easy to access and become dependent on. For this reason, it is also one of the most difficult substances to abstain from.
  • Illegal drugs. Substances like heroin, crack, powdered cocaine and cannabis are some of the most abused chemicals available. They all create physical and psychological addiction and often need medical assistance to stop using.
  • Prescription drugs. In 2019, more than 10 million people in the U.S reported misusing prescription opioids and about 130 people in the U.S. die each day due to fatal opioid overdose. It is easy to get hooked on prescription drugs given that they are readily available via a doctor.
  • Sex. Sex addiction involves excessive sexual activity that takes over your life. You might cheat on your partner, watch excessive porn, and generally find it hard to function without a sexual fix.
  • Gambling. Arguably one of the most devastating addictions is gambling. This is where you will spend money you don’t have on an out-of-control gambling habit that could see you lose your house, partner, job and sense of self.
  • Co-dependency. A lesser known addiction, yet a very serious one. Co-dependency is viewed as an addiction to a person – often someone in chaos who needs ‘fixing’. Co-dependency can see you abandon your own needs and values and spend your entire life dedicated to helping someone else, ultimately at your own expense.
  • Internet. Internet addiction is a more modern addiction as smart technology becomes more commonplace in our lives. Some can become addicted to the internet (including internet shopping or gaming) to the point where it takes over their lives and causes poor mental health.
  • Food. Eating disorders can be categorised as an addiction and can include anorexia, binge eating and bulimia. Eating disorders can be deadly and it is crucial you get the help you need if you think you have an addictive or unhealthy relationship with food.
The power of addiction

The power of addiction cannot be overstated. People who live with chronic addiction problems can lose their homes, children, family, friends, jobs – and often their lives – due to their addiction. But beyond that, addiction is all-consuming. It can become more than just a crutch for self-regulation and develop into your sole reason for living. If you are worried about a spiralling addiction, it’s important to seek help as soon as you can to prevent the consequences from worsening.

Often, it is those around us that spot the addiction before we do. Sometimes this is because the very nature of our problem makes it impossible to see it objectively (not seeing the wood for the trees, so to speak). Combined with this is a sense of denial – which is, effectively, your mind telling you that there is no problem, so that you can continue to feed your addiction. Here are some signs that you might be experiencing an addiction problem:

Common behaviours associated with addiction are:

  • Secret keeping / lying / hiding ourselves or our habits
  • Blaming others for our problems or making excuses
  • Finding reasons to feed the addiction (e.g. I had a bad day at work, I deserve this drink).
  • Having relationship problems / arguments / not sustaining relationships for long
  • Sabotaging important life features (job, marriage, finances)
  • Defensiveness when challenged about the addiction

Common emotions associated with addiction are:

  • Shame
  • Anger / resentment
  • Hopelessness / Sorrow
  • Depression / suicidal thoughts
  • Anxiety
  • Self-loathing
  • Fear
  • Guilt
  • Helplessness / no control

These emotions are truly challenging. But with the right help, you can learn about the interrelation between your emotions and your addiction and begin the process of healing in a holistic way.

Acknowledgement of addiction

Before getting effective help with an addiction, it is important to acknowledge its presence. You might find you have already reached this realisation, or you can do this with the help of therapy. Once you have acknowledged your problem, recovery is possible.

Getting the support you need

I offer you acute couples counselling, couples therapy and individual psychotherapy based on your preferences, either online, at your place, or at my clinics in Østerbro or Svendborg.

We can also go for a walk.

My pledge

Whichever help and support you need, my pledge to you is consistent.

Next step

Book a free 15 minute conversation, which is all you need to begin your journey. We will talk about where you are now, where you want to be, and how I can help you get there.