Reza Ahmad Counsellor & Psychotherapist Online and in Bristol (UK)

How Couples Therapy can help

In couples therapy my primary aim is to support you in your ability to be present both with your own experience and with your partner, particularly when relating becomes difficult. I'll help you to stay present with an open heart and open mind in the midst of challenging circumstances, allowing you to respond to the situation by bringing your deepest capacities of clarity, calm, curiosity, compassion, courage, confidence, creativity and connectedness. With these qualities available you will learn to communicate in a way that is most likely to ensure that you are heard and understood, and be able to clearly hear what your partner is saying, regardless of the manner in which they may be saying it. Then you can work through differences, conflicts, past injuries/hurts, sexual difficulties and find creative solutions to any difficulties you face. Please bear in mind that these results do not necessarily mean that you will decide to stay together as a couple. If either of you are questioning whether to stay in the relationship I will support you to explore that question together without holding an assumption or agenda about that myself. If either of you, or both of you, decide to end the relationship I can support you through that process.

A deeper look at how I work using Internal Family Systems (IFS)

My approach when working with couples is based on the Internal Family Systems model adapted to working with couples by Toni Herbine-Blanke. You can take a look here first for an outline of IFS.
When couples are in crisis or difficulty it almost always involves each partner reacting rather than responding to the other. This may be in the form of protective sub-personalities or parts judging/criticising, blaming, saying hurtful things, justifying, rationalising, denying, deceiving, physically attacking, attempting to coerce - all of which can be thought of as outwardly directed reactions. Or it may take the form of protective parts (protectors) withdrawing, avoiding, collapsing, dissociating, acquiescing, freezing, judging oneself - all of which can be thought of as inwardly directed reactions. When a part of us reacts in such a way to what a partner says or does - or what our part perceives a partner as saying or doing - this usually elicits a reactive part in our partner, which then elicits further reactivity in us, and so on.... The result is repetitive and predictable sequences or cycles of reactivity which once triggered lead to increasing feelings of hurt, shame, abandonment, loneliness, disappointment and hopelessness.

To address all of this I will help you in making a necessary 'U-turn'. This involves re-directing attention from what's happening externally (focusing on a partner) to what's happening internally (in your body and mind) so that you can recognise when your own protective parts are activated and understand how they are motivated to react in the ways they do in an attempt to protect you from the vulnerable feelings of an exile. Exiles are parts we all inevitably have that have been emotionally wounded and carry the burdens of painful feelings, memories and beliefs (such as feeling inadequate, ashamed, unlovable, unworthy, alone, unseen, broken and wrong). Then I will show you how to speak on behalf of the vulnerable feelings of your exiles, when they are activated, rather than having a reactive protector take over your system. When we speak with calm, clarity and courage on behalf of our exiles we find that it usually elicits a loving response from a partner and leads to a deepening of intimacy, mutual understanding, trust and respect. As a result of this courageous communication you will also develop your capacity to negotiate differing needs and make requests on behalf of those needs in a way that will be easier for a partner to respond to with an open heart and mind. There is some opportunity for healing exiles in this couples work but you may need to engage in one-to-one work to explore that, which is something we can discuss.

I welcome couples of any sexual orientation or gender identity.

Couples. Couple dancing tango

Tango Couples Therapy

Tango Couples' Therapy is a form of couples' therapy that has grown out of my experience of dancing Tango Argentino, teaching Tango and working as a psychotherapist and bodyworker. It is an alternative approach in which couples can grow and deepen into their relationship whilst enjoying the process of learning this wonderful dance. No previous dance experience is required.

Learning Tango reveals important things about the relationship between an intimate couple . The dance requires one person to take on the role of 'leading' or 'inviting' and the other to take on the role of 'following' or 'receiving'. This relationship creates a polarity or charge between the couple. It is often the attraction between the sexual polarities of two individuals (regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity) that draws them into an intimate relationship. Sometimes the loss of this polarity, which can be due to various causes, results in disharmony, dissatisfaction and a loss of 'juice' in the relationship. As a couple explore their dance roles they can work through the difficulties they may have in relating from the masculine or feminine polarities of their being and develop their understanding of how they can play with polarity to enjoy the chemistry in their relationship. This leads to deeper intimacy and connection to oneself and each other.

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