Leanne Cuddington, MA
Somatic Counselling Psychology
Registered Clinical Counsellor
Kitsilano, Vancouver, BC
individual and couples counselling
therapy: trauma; somatic therapy: anxiety, depression, stress, relationships
marriage, grief, addictions
"Improving relationships with
ourselves and others for
positive choice and change."
Treatment for Couples
"Too often, what couples do not see is that most fights are really protests over emotional disconnection. Underneath all the distress, partners are desperate to know: Are you there for me? Do you need me? Do you rely on me?" -- Sue Johnson
My goal is to assist each individual and/or couple to improve communication, and enhance intimacy and connection. My work with couples draws on a structured approach called emotionally focused couples therapy (EFT) combined with body psychotherapy (somatic) techniques. This blended approach is rooted in attachment theory: the philosophy that emotionally fulfilling relationships are a core human need, and key to mental and physical health.
Communication breakdown can create unnecessary tension and conflict in relationships which erodes closeness and intimacy. Problems often arise when partners feel judged, criticized or misunderstood. Learning to speak so that thoughts, feelings and experiences are understood by your partner is key to creating connection and satisfying relationships.
Rather than just focusing on the problems at the surface of your relationship, we will attend to the underlying needs and emotions. We will explore how trauma and challenging life experiences - even from the distant past - may be fuelling conflict and disrupting your ability to enjoy a mutually fulfilling relationship now. We will also focus on how communication and interaction patterns stemming from past experiences may be limiting or preventing supportive bonds between you.
By recognizing and understanding negative behaviour cycles and emotional responses, we can shift them to initiate new positive patterns of interaction.
What you may experience in our 1.5-hour sessions together:
The benefits of emotionally focused couples therapy and body psychotherapy:
- As we engage in a dialogue, I will observe what is happening to each partner's body. For example, is one partner rolling or narrowing his or her eyes when the other speaks? Are arms crossed and shoulders hunched? Our physical selves exhibit significant information that we often don't express in words.
- I will also observe any negative cycles of behaviour, such as criticize-defend or anger-withdrawal, and how each of you participates in and reinforces these unproductive patterns. Being mindful of repetitive behaviour cycles is key to taking responsibility for individual roles within them.
- At various points in the session, I may ask you to try various interventions to counteract the physical cues or negative cycles I am observing. For example, I might suggest that one partner say a specific significant phrase to the other. We will then talk about the physical, emotional, and cognitive reactions these interventions created - digging deeper into the root causes of your conflict.
- I will encourage you to explore alternative options for engaging with each other, both inside and outside the session. I will ask you to study what happens when you try these new behaviours and communication techniques, and in subsequent sessions we will discuss these results. Acquiring the ability to self-study and self-regulate your habitual responses to each other will play a major role in your healing as a couple.
A blended EFT / body-based approach has been shown to have numerous benefits over other therapeutic approaches for couples:
- Can be used with many different kinds of couples experiencing many different relational issues.
- Couples collaborate in developing tools they can use to communicate more effectively and turn destructive arguments into constructive conversations.
- Partners learn how to restructure and expand their emotional responses to each other, replacing negative cycles of behaviour with positive cycles that strengthen the connection between you.
- As a well-researched, systematic change process, EFT has positive effects not only on relational distress, but on individual issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression.