Premarital Counselling: Making ‘happy marriage’ a reality

Premarital Counselling: Making ‘happy marriage’ a reality

Are you hesitant to plan ahead for fear of making the wrong decision?

Do you feel like both you and your partner aren’t on the same page far too often especially when taking major decisions?

If you can’t balance out your differences and walk into your marriage with confidence, premarital counselling can help!

Even if it all seems to be going well, why not build a stronger foundation with the help of an accredited therapist?

Premarital counselling can help identify potential conflict areas and equip you and your partner with tools to navigate them successfully. You can identify each other’s strengths and weaknesses so that you can set realistic expectations when planning for the future.

Research says that 30 percent of couples that underwent premarital education experienced higher levels of satisfaction post-marriage, as well as a 30 per cent decline in the likelihood of divorce over the first 5 years of marriage.

Here’s a list of important topics that you can discuss during your counselling sessions:

1. Family ties:
Counseling offers the opportunity to establish clear boundaries for decisions that may affect the couple. In a conflict of interest scenario, it needs to be made clear that the individual does not side with the parent, but keeps an open mind and tries to accommodate their partner’s preference.

2. Your role in the marriage:
Oftentimes couples have trouble being honest about the roles and responsibilities they are ready to take on in the marriage. While some women like being home to nurture the children, there are others who prefer to contribute financially by going to work. Same goes for men as well. Both sides need to be clear about what their expectations are and counselling can help bring that clarity.

3. Importance of Religion:
You get a chance to discuss the importance of faith and spirituality in your life and the implications it has in your day to day activities. Not just religion, but the values you live by as well so that you can walk into your marriage ready.

4. Willingness to have kids:
Even though it sounds like an obvious topic of discussion, a lot of people walk into marriages unsure about where they stand with the willingness to have kids. Counselling will offer an opportunity for you to ponder on the same and make a decision well in advance as a couple.

5. Decision making:
It’s important to be aware of whether or not your partner feels like their opinion is being valued when making decisions. A counsellor can help play a vital role in asking questions that will reveal the truth and give you a better insight.

6. Communication:
What do you do when you and your partner have a disagreement?
Counselling can help you improve on your communication styles by helping you identify positive and negative communicative patterns. This can be especially helpful if one or both of you have issues with anger.

7. Finances:
While this is a topic that is avoided most of the time, it isn’t intrusive to ask your partner about their lifestyle expectations, spending patterns, whether or not they have any debt, credit information and so on. These are important conversations that can help you plan out your finances and structure your future accordingly. You need to talk about how much each of you will contribute after marriage and the kind of investments you would like to make.

8. Intimacy:
Informing your partner about your needs, desires and sex drive can help you have a happy sex life after marriage. It can often be uncomfortable talking about intimacy but that’s exactly what counselling can push you to do. You’ll definitely be sorry if you don’t have this conversation before marriage.

Based on your requirements as a couple you can opt for different kinds of counselling. Some of which are listed below.

1. In-person premarital counseling
As the name suggests, this is a kind of counselling where you meet with your counsellor offline face to face.

2. Online premarital counseling courses
Online counseling method that offers advice on anticipating and resolving conflicts that may arise once a couple is married.

3. Group courses, retreats, and discussions
It is always helpful to learn from other couples’ experiences so, if they share about a problem you are having or may face in the future, you will have tips on how to handle it.

Types of Couples Therapy that the counsellor may use are:

1. Gottman Method
In Gottman Method Couples Therapy, the purpose is to disarm conflictive verbal communication; increase intimacy, respect, and affection; remove barriers that create stagnancy; and create a heightened sense of empathy and understanding in the context of the relationship.

2. Emotionally Focussed Therapy
EFT is a type of short-term therapy that is used to improve attachment and bonding in adult relationships. This approach to couples therapy is based on love as an attachment bond.

3. Psychodynamic
You and your partner engage in this type of therapy to explore your underlying hopes and fears to help you understand each other better.

All in all, premarital counselling can help you and your partner learn constructive communication, conflict resolution skills, eliminate dysfunctional behaviour and alleviate any fears related to marriage.

Click the link below to purchase our course on Premarital Counselling today. Let this be your first step towards a successful marriage.

Practising Mindfulness

Practising Mindfulness

Did you know that our minds wander a whopping 47% of the time? That’s nearly half of our lives we spend distracted.  

So how do we go about increasing our focus? We ought to slowly but surely train our minds to be able to focus for longer periods of time and in doing so become more efficient at completing tasks. 

And how can we go about doing so? While there are many ways to increase focus, mindfulness is one practice that has proven to be most effective. 

Many of us beat ourselves up because we can’t sit and concentrate without any interruptions.  However, we fail to realise that we are only practising judgement when we do so. Eventually the judgement grows stronger and leads to terrible guilt, which is a huge obstacle to overcome.

Mindfulness is about paying attention, but it’s not enough to simply pay attention. Additionally, we must work with kindness, accepting all the messy parts of ourselves with compassion and not resentment.

A large part of our lives happens in our heads, hence, inorder to change our lives, the best place to start is our minds.

In the fast paced world we live in, there are millions of things rushing through our brain at a time. Taking care of all of these things leaves us no time to make the bigger, more important decisions that will take us from simply existing to living a life with meaning.

While we are connected with people all over the world, the real question is: are we connected with ourselves?

In the same way that pauses or rest give shape and beauty to music pieces, the appropriate intervals in our lives are what allow our thoughts to expand and give meaning to our lives.

Now that we’ve learned a little about mindfulness, let’s look at how we can start practising it.

1. Give yourself pockets of empty time and space to prevent being in constant action. You can do this in a number of ways. For instance, look out of the window, especially if you have a calming view. Find a room that is empty and sit in it for a while and focus on your breathing. 

2. After waking up, instead of making yourself available for the world, set aside time to sit in a peaceful place to ensure that you start the day in the right frame of mind. If you don’t have nature around you, you could simply sit in your balcony where there’s fresh air. Note that when you begin to meditate, it doesn’t mean your thoughts will not surface. It means observing them and redirecting yourself to a focal point and breath can be that focal point. 

3. Making a conscious decision to not use any device during a journey. If you happen to be someone who travels a lot, it could work in your favor to use that time as a way to recharge and reflect. Even if you can’t think of any particular decision you need to make, just sit and feel at ease. 

Not just during travel but in general it’s best to turn off notifications so that technology doesn’t control you. Instead, open certain apps when you’re free to engage with them without being prompted to do so each time they beep. 

4. After journaling your thoughts or after talking to your partner about your day, mindfulness can prove really helpful in just sitting by yourself. Since you’ve already spoken about your day, there’s a high chance that some other important things may come to light.

5. Use your body to heal your mind. There are various ways to do this including:

  • Dancing : Find a place where you can have your privacy and dance to your comfort songs. It doesn’t matter what you look like; nobody is watching you anyway. Make sure no mirrors are around or you’ll end up judging yourself. 
  • Grounding : Walking on the ground barefoot can help pull you into the present. Grounding techniques are proven to be helpful in reducing cortisol as well. 
  • Allow your body to unnumb and feel your emotions : Once you allow it, you will begin to  realise that it’s easier to allow your emotions to move themselves. Allow your body and mind to process and air your emotions. If it’s anger, scream and kick and punch the pillow near you. To release laughter, laugh, scream, kick and free yourself. To release sadness, cry. 
  • Using self massage : During a self-massage, you use your hands or other tools like a foam roller or even a tennis ball to manipulate your own muscles. This involves kneading the skin and applying pressure in certain spots. You know your own body best, so this technique can prove to be highly effective in stimulating and rejuvenating your body. 

Whatever is stopping you from practising mindfulness, remember that it’s those tasks and those people that you will be able to serve better. Begin to take time off for yourself to ponder and be more present.

If you’re having trouble with how to begin or feel stuck at any point, Incontact has a team of wonderful counsellors to assist you. Headover to incontact.com.sg to book your appointment today!

Benefits of Counselling in Coping with Infertility

Benefits of Counselling in Coping with Infertility

Oftentimes, infertility is treated as a medical issue with little attention given to the emotional stresses an individual or couple goes through.

Unfortunately, in most parts of the world, infertility is automatically seen as the fault of the woman in the relationship. However, research has shown that on average, women are responsible for only 40% of the causes of infertility, while men are equally responsible for another 40% of it. The remaining 20% is due to other unknown factors. This just goes to show that even though men and women have been equally responsible for infertility, the woman is still being blamed and looked down upon in society. 

Infertility is not a disease, yet it can cause various psycho-emotional consequences including turmoil, frustration, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, guilt, and feelings of worthlessness in an individual.

Apart from the inability to get pregnant, there are no other signs that indicate infertility. 

For females, there are less obvious signs that  include irregularities in the menstrual cycle. Males, on the other hand, may experience unusual hair growth or changes in sexual activity.

Difficulty in self-control, reduced self-esteem, feelings of helplessness, and hopelessness are some of the symptoms experienced following the treatment process.

Infertility can also affect the intimacy between partners due to the pressure of getting pregnant during sexual intercourse.

It is common for partners to respond differently to stress and grief from infertility, which can create a downward spiral in the relationship. While one partner may withdraw from the relationship to avoid the pain, the other may intensify their emotions to make their partner feel more connected.

Although much research still needs to be done on this subject, several studies suggest that psychological interventions, especially those emphasizing stress management and coping skills training, are beneficial for infertility patients.

Through therapy, couples are able to discuss options and make decisions on what to do next. Fertility treatments, artificial insemination, surrogate parenting, adoption, or even separation are some of the discussions that a couple has to explore. Therapy can also help couples deal with feelings of guilt or anger that may arise when only one person is infertile.

Let us look at some options one can adopt to help cope with infertility:

1. Couples Therapy : When a couple struggles with fertility issues, couples therapy can help improve communication and explore decisions that work for both partners. Sometimes, partners may disagree about the best course of treatment, or one partner may feel hesitant to seek medical help. A therapist can help navigate these concerns. Therapy may also be a useful place to discuss how long infertility treatments should be pursued or the amount of money that should be spent on attempting treatment.

2. Family Therapy : In some cases, infertility may affect other members of a family, such as children and grandparents. A couple may have a hard time sharing the news of infertility with other members of the family, or they may feel pressured to have children even when they cannot pursue treatment options for infertility. Any of these issues may be addressed in family therapy. It may be helpful to encourage friends and family to become informed about infertility, as they can be an important source of support when one is experiencing anxiety and stress.

3. Support Groups: Small get-togethers with people who can relate to you have been proven to be helpful in dealing with the effects of an infertility diagnosis. In these groups, a wide variety of people can share their experiences, suggestions, coping tips, doctor recommendations, and options for new treatments. Social support plays an important role in helping people move past stress, particularly if they feel judged or inadequate because of fertility issues. Simply having the option of discussing one’s difficulties with others who are similarly affected may be of significant help.

Therapy can be very helpful before beginning medical treatments for infertility. This is because the therapist would be able to help educate the couple on what to expect psychologically during the treatment. Therapy also helps to ensure that both partners are comfortable with the decision to start treatment, especially because it can be a physically and emotionally draining process. Some people are naturally anxious, and in cases like this, having a therapist is almost a necessity. A therapist will allow you to verbalize and help with self-regulation through breathing. 

For those who are open to it, a therapist can also try brainspotting. Brainspotting therapy is a type of alternative therapy that uses spots in a person’s visual field to help them process trauma. It accesses trauma trapped in the subcortical brain, the area of the brain responsible for motion, consciousness, emotions, and learning.

While family and friends can also be a source of support, it can also be hard to connect with those who are expecting children when one cannot conceive, or who say things that are well-intended but may come across as insensitive. This is exactly why the role of a professional is crucial in the journey of infertility. 

Our team of highly experienced professionals make the process easier for you by using methods and techniques that you are comfortable with. Head over to our website at incontact.com.sg to book your appointment with us today!

How to Deal With Guilt

How to Deal With Guilt

Let’s admit it. We’ve all felt that nauseating twist in our stomach when we realise we’ve done something to cause someone pain.

We let guilt creep into our consciousness only to leave us with emotional turmoil.

Guilt is a very powerful emotion. It can weigh you down if you don’t own your mistake and take the honest path. It can also leave you with a sense of responsibility to clean up the mess you made and to think about how you can do things differently when the situation arises next.

While some guilt can be irrational and undeserving of our attention, guilt caused by hurting someone you love has a purpose to teach you something. We must pay attention to this fact so that we can be more considerate individuals.

If you’re ever at a point where you’re grappling with guilt, here are some ways that can help you deal with it.

1. Admit it:

A lot of people tend to push away their emotions and go on with life until they reach a point where it’s unbearable.

Acknowledging your guilt can be your first step towards being more in tune with your emotions.

In doing so, you are making a conscious decision to accept and work through your emotions no matter how uncomfortable it makes you.

2. Identify the root cause:

In addition to hurting another person, guilt can also stem from events that were beyond your control, such as parting ways with a friend who helped you greatly in the past but became disrespectful of your boundaries. Reflecting on the situation can help you determine the source of your guilt.

3. Apologize:

In the process of discovering the root cause of your guilt, you will realize that you owe an apology to either yourself or another person/group of people that you hurt. Make it a point to approach them with utmost humility and make amends.

4. Learn from the past:

Although looking back won’t allow you to change a thing from the past, you can try to connect the dots and make sense of what happened and how you could have done things differently.

5. Instill a sense of self-compassion:

Recognise that no one is perfect and instead of beating yourself up about what you did, treat yourself like you would treat a friend who made the same mistake. You deserve the same kindness. Remind yourself of your self-worth and make sure to be compassionate and forgiving.

6. Surround yourself with people you love:

Guilt can often lead to self-isolation which only leads to bottled up emotions. Instead, speak to people who you think can relate so that they can share their experiences in turn and support you in the process.

7. Consider going to therapy:

While friends and family can help, it’s important to explore effective coping skills when dealing with guilt.

A lot of people shy away from talking to others, they’re close to for fear of judgement. In such cases, a counsellor is the best person to turn to.

Therapy can offer a safe space to learn how to forgive yourself and move forward. If you’d like to open up about your guilt and seek professional support, we have a team of counsellors who would love to help you out. Book a session with us today by logging onto www.incontact.com.sg.

Social Anxiety Hacks Unlocked

Social Anxiety Hacks Unlocked

Have you ever gotten sweaty palms and jittery legs before entering a room full of people? Or paced up and down overthinking the start of a conversation before walking up to someone?

Social anxiety can look different to each person but is a part of common situations that make most people anxious. Giving a presentation to a large audience, eating alone in a café, sitting by yourself in a park, dancing at weddings, going on dates and the list goes on.

Some more subtle signs of social anxiety are:

  • Slipping into the kitchen with an excuse to prepare something to serve when guests come over.
  • Asking continuous questions in conversations so the other person is doing most of the talking.
  • Pretending to be busy on your phone when walking alone.

While you may relate to some of these, you may also find that other simple things like making a conversation with a cousin you haven’t met in a long time can be nerve-racking for some people.

Some physical symptoms of social anxiety can be excessive sweating, light-headedness, muscle tension, rapid heartbeat, weeping and sometimes even diarrhoea.

How does it start?

Social Anxiety can stem from bullying or some kind of teasing in the past. It can also be linked to having an overactive amygdala. Your amygdala is the part of your brain that controls your fear response.

Tips for living with Social Anxiety

1. Improve on self-awareness:

Be conscious and self-aware of what situations trigger you. Keep a note of your surroundings, your response and other sights/sounds around you. Only when you are aware of the situations that trigger you, can you then work on them.

2. Visualize your confidence in a social setting:

Visualize yourself in a social setting. If it makes you anxious, snuggle with a pet or turn on some calming music or eat some comfort food while you do it, but don’t skip this step.

3. Prepare:

Perform some breathing exercises before you set out to make sure you’re in a calm state. Stretching can help too. When tense, our bodies tend to get stiff so relaxing our muscles can help in releasing the anxiety.

Another way to prepare is to role-play with people you trust. Once you are self-aware, you will know the kind of situations that make you most anxious. Ask a loved one to role-play some of these conversations with you so you can practice ways to get through them.

4. Start small:

Make eye contact with someone at the store and smile or raise your hand in class to answer. Eventually, move to hosting small events for close friends and family.

5. Don’t allow yourself to get in your head:

Negative talk isn’t the only cause of social anxiety but it certainly fuels the condition. Thoughts like, “I’m not dressed for this occasion”, “No way can I walk up to them and start talking.”, “I can barely even hold a conversation with my mom”, are negative thoughts that you have to push back. Shift your attention to what’s happening around you, instead of wondering if you seem anxious to other people.

6. Therapy:

A type of behavioural therapy called exposure therapy can help with social anxiety. A counsellor can help expose you to social situations that make you uncomfortable and gradually make you feel at ease.

Another type of therapy that can help only with certain types of social anxiety is relaxation therapy. As the name suggests, you learn techniques that help with relaxation. These include meditation, stretching and breathing exercises.

7. Be Kind:

In a 2015 study of 115 college students living with social anxiety, performing small acts of kindness for 4 weeks helped reduce social anxiety. This works because social anxiety stems from the fear of rejection. The approval that you get when you do something nice for someone helps combat this fear of being rejected.

8. Medication:

Generally, taking medicines is the last resort mainly for people that experience intense physical symptoms. The FDA has approved various drugs but it’s best to consult a psychiatrist.

Bottom line:

Having a quality small group of close friends who stand by you is what counts more than a bunch of acquaintances that rarely talk to you. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s okay not to mix with anyone other than your close friend circle.

Networking with people can help build new relationships that add joy to life. Not everyone you meet has to turn into a close friend, some can simply be positive people that are great to hang out with every once in a while.

Maybe, someone who could be your best friend, someone who truly gets you or someone who likes the same things as you is waiting for you. The question is, will you let your social anxiety get in the way of finding them?

At Incontact Counselling and Training, we are a team of passionate counsellors who can help you deal with your social anxiety. For more information and to book an appointment, connect with us on www.incontact.com.sg.

Readjusting to Life Post-Covid OR How Should Life Post-Covid Look Like?  By Cecilia Yee

Readjusting to Life Post-Covid OR How Should Life Post-Covid Look Like?
By Cecilia Yee

Singapore – On 24th March 2022, we were informed that in five days,we can go mask less outdoors, now ten people can gather at any one time versus five, venues can fill up to seventy five percent with masked participants as well as no social distancing. 

Is this truly a sigh of relief?

When we hunkered down for the first round of circuit breaker in April 2020, we did not know how to conduct ourselves – work from home was mainly a concept for the cosmopolitan few, home-based learning for the mainstream schools was not nearly a concept yet for students as well as educators.

Do you recall how we experienced the confusion and the frustration?

Then the hurried preparations to accommodateour home offices and classrooms? 

The ceasing of all social activities?

Following that, we were mostly stuck at home with our spouses, partners, children and other family members for extraordinarily long stretches of time.

Added to that we hadthe direct and indirect impacts on our businesses and our lives.

And the loss continued on with no end in sight.

Do you remember how you felt when we were forced to alter our habits and routines? 

The majority of us  felt anxious and stressed, a handful depressed.

Back to the Present

With the easing of safety management measures announced in March 2022 we can now begin to ponder and think about unlearning what we had struggled with over the last few years.

Yet that struggle had become our new stability within the instability we had experienced.

The main question we are all facing is how do we begin reverting to a pre-pandemic life? 

What are we anxious about?

What new habits and routines we have acquired over the last 2 years do we need to let go of? 

What will we miss from the era of Covid safety measures? 

What will you not completely go back to doing? 

It’s very normal to feel this type of anxiety right now.

Barnard College president Sian Beilock, a cognitive scientist, who researches anxiety for a living, is feeling it herself:

“When you haven’t practiced in a while, anything can become harder or less fluent.”

Managing Change

As counsellors, we would like to reiterate the importance of allowing and expecting a period of adjustments and transition.  Change is not about shifting from one state to another seamlessly or instantly. It is about shifts, rearrangements, modifications, tuning and fine-tuning and evolutions. 

Sincechange does not occur overnight,discomfort is a guarantee. It is also not a linear process. We often go back & forth in this adaptation process.

An important part of change is to acknowledge it.

Since Covid descended upon us it is important for us to reflect & introspect:

  • What were you happy about?
  • What were you not too happy about?
  • Whichparts of the past two years will you miss?
  • What have you discovered about yourselfand your loved ones?
  • What has happened to your relationships?
  • What new skills have you acquired?
  • What are you grateful for?
  • What are you relieved about?
  • How have your career and life vision changed over the past 2 years?
  • What are the new boundaries you want to put in place for family, friends and other obligations?

Throughout this period of adjustment and transition, we need to be mindful that others around us are going through the same experiences and experiencing different levels of discomfort. 

Relationally this transition can have different meanings, frustrations and stages for all of us.

Going Back to a New Normal

Here are 4 questions to bear in mind as you reboot:

  1. Are your expectations realistic?
  2. Are you in touch with how you are feeling as you readjust?
  3. Are you able to look at the positives more than the negatives?
  4. Are you pacing yourself?

If you feel you are struggling  with this transition, it is imperative for us to reach out to share with a loved one or to see a professional to ease the way back into new habits and routines. 

After all, as a famous Chinese proverb says: “A wise man adapts himself to circumstances, as water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it.”

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