Catholic Charities Counseling program provides quality, affordable services to individuals, families, couples, children and adolescents dealing with a variety of concern including anxiety, depression, anger management, stress, abuse, grief and more. Our compassionate counselors also write informative articles about mental health, self-care, and provide strategies to manage stress and conflict.

Monday, 30 January 2023

Cultivating Healthy Relationships

Relationships are supposed to be fulfilling. Unfortunately, they can become draining when one or both parties fall into unhealthy patterns. The ability to identify these issues and resolve them is essential to maintaining healthy relationships.

Set Boundaries

A healthy boundary includes the freedom to think for yourself and feel your feelings. In a supportive relationship, the other person will let you speak your mind even if they don’t agree and validate your feelings even if they don’t understand them. Another example is respect for your personal space and comfort level with physical touch.

Having time alone is just as valuable as spending time with others. If you feel guilty about saying “no,” you may be in an unhealthy relationship.

To set a boundary, you will need to clearly communicate it to the other person. It’ll likely be difficult at first, but it’ll only change your relationship for the better.

Strive for Effective Communication

Communication is both verbal and nonverbal. Verbal communication consists of clarity, tone, speed, and volume, in addition to the actual words spoken. When you’re upset or angry, be aware of your verbal cues. We all feel negative emotions, but engaging in things like yelling, passive aggression, and defensiveness will only harm your relationships.

Nonverbal communication includes body language, eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, and posture. Closed-off nonverbal communication includes things like crossing arms or legs, not making eye contact, and frowning. To encourage effective communication, engage in eye contact, smile, and turn your body toward the other person.

Note that some people may struggle to understand or give appropriate verbal and nonverbal cues. In these situations, take extra care to be clear and specific in your communication. If a person doesn’t seem to pick up on a verbal or nonverbal cue, talk it out before making assumptions.

Keep Disagreements Fair

When arguing, discuss one topic at a time using respectful language. Use “I” statements rather than “you” statements, which prevent the other person from becoming defensive. For example, you might say, “I felt misunderstood during dinner last night.”

Speak calmly and avoid talking over the other person. Yelling, name-calling, and shutting down and ignoring the other person are unacceptable. Before the argument gets to that point, take time to calm down and discuss the issue at a later time.

Seek Help Through Counseling

Catholic Charities' Counseling Program is holding a free, virtual workshop about Cultivating Healthy Relationships on Feb. 7, 2023. Register online today!

If you need additional help learning effective communication, consider reaching out to a counselor. Catholic Charities’ counseling staff continues to provide quality, affordable services through telehealth or in person that are fee-based, with a sliding scale based on your ability to pay. We also accept Mercy Care, Molina Complete Care, and Banner University AHCCCS plans. Please schedule an appointment today by calling 602-749-4405.

Anna Smith MC, LPC, LISAC is the Senior Program Manager for the Counseling Program and has been with Catholic Charities for 19 years. Family is important to her, and she loves to crochet in her free time.

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