3 Ways to Improve Communication in Relationships

3 Ways to Improve Communication in Relationships

Communication is an essential component of healthy relationships, but many couples struggle to communicate effectively.  Often when emotions are running high, this becomes increasingly difficult to do and many couples report struggling to communicate effectively in their relationship. This can be for a number of reasons including childhood trauma, previous relationship traumas (including betrayals) and never having learned how to regulate emotions when they are hot.

People often are unaware of why they react the way they do in difficult conversations and are unable to ask for their needs to be met in a clear way. What often happen instead is that they get stuck in negative patterns of anger, criticism, indifference or shutting the conversation down. Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFCT) refers to this as the negative cycle. When couples get caught frequently in the negative cycle, they become discouraged about their relationship and feel increasingly disconnected from each other.

Poor communication can lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and even relationship breakdowns. Whether you’re dealing with conflicts, navigating differences, or just trying to connect with your partner, improving your communication skills can help you build stronger, more fulfilling relationships. In this blog, we’ll explore why good communication is important and three strategies for improving communication in relationships, so you can cultivate deeper understanding, trust, and intimacy with your partner.

Good communication is important for several reasons:

Good communication is essential in any type of relationship, including romantic ones. In a romantic relationship, effective communication helps to build trust, increase intimacy, and maintain a strong emotional connection between partners. There is never perfect communication in any relationship, however, it is possible to recognize when you are getting off track in your conversations and take a break, slow down or regulate your own internal state so you can better attune to your partner. In Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy this would be described as negative cycle deescalation or being able to recognize the negative cycle and stop it before it takes over the conversation.

Here are some specific reasons why good communication is so important in a romantic relationship:

1) Builds trust: Communication builds trust between partners. By communicating openly and honestly with each other, partners can build trust and feel secure in their relationship.

2) Helps resolves conflict: Communication helps resolve conflicts in a healthy and constructive way. When partners communicate effectively, they can identify the root cause of conflicts, express their feelings and needs, and work together to find a resolution.

3)Increases intimacy: Communication increases intimacy between partners. When partners communicate openly and honestly, they can share their deepest thoughts, feelings, and desires, which can strengthen their emotional connection and intimacy.

4) Fosters emotional support: Communication fosters emotional support between partners. When partners communicate effectively, they can provide emotional support to each other, which can help them cope with stress and difficult times.

5) Promotes shared goals and values: Communication promotes shared goals and values between partners. When partners communicate openly and honestly, they can share their goals and values, and work together to achieve them.

6) Builds a stronger foundation for the relationship: Communication builds a stronger foundation for the relationship.

By communicating openly and honestly with each other, partners can build a strong and resilient relationship that can weather the ups and downs of life. But this often feels easier said than done.



relationship counselling for difficult relationships Bedford nova scotia

3 Ways to Improve Communication in Your Relationships

Be Fully Present

Active listening means giving your partner your full attention and really hearing what they are saying. This means putting aside distractions and avoiding interrupting your partner while they speak. Make eye contact and fully listen to what the other person is saying and how they are saying it.

This is important because mirror neurons, which are specialized cells in the brain, are perceiving the expression and engagement of the other person below the level of our conscious awareness.

These neurons are thought to play a role in empathy, social cognition, and imitation. They play a role in understanding and interpreting nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice. For example, when one partner in a conversation expresses sadness, the other partner may activate mirror neurons that help them feel and understand the other person’s emotions.This can be helpful in building rapport and trust with the other person.

Overall, the role of mirror neurons in communication is still an area of active research. However, it is clear that these neurons play an important role in understanding and interpreting nonverbal cues, which can be a critical component of effective communication.  For this reason, it is very important to be fully present in your conversations.

If you’d like to learn more about mirror neurons Marco Iacoboni, author of the book “Mirroring People” has a very interesting lecture on this topic.


Validation means acknowledging your partner’s feelings, even if you don’t agree with them. This can help your partner feel heard and understood, which can improve communication.

Avoid arguing or debating with the person about their feelings. Instead, focus on understanding their perspective and finding common ground.

Try offering support and encouragement to the person, even if you don’t agree with their perspective. Let them know that you are there for them and that you care about their feelings.


Take Responsibility for Your Feelings and Actions

Taking responsibility for your own feelings can help avoid blaming your partner for how you feel. Share with your partner about the impact of the situation on you and how it is to be in your shoes.

Be open to feedback from the other person, and be willing to listen to their perspective. Accepting feedback can help you understand the impact of your actions and make positive changes in your behavior. Acknowledge your mistakes and express a willingness to make amends.

These are just some of the ways you can improve your communication with others. You may also want to seek the guidance of a couples’ therapist who can offer you even more strategies and a safe space to share your feelings. 


learning to communicate better in your marriage couples counselling Bedford Halifax Nova Scotia

Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy

Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is a form of therapy that focuses on improving emotional connection and communication between couples. It is based on attachment theory, which suggests that humans have a basic need for secure emotional connections with others.

In EFT, the therapist helps couples identify and express their emotions, understand their patterns of interaction, and create new ways of communicating and connecting. EFT has been found to be effective in improving relationship satisfaction, reducing conflict, and promoting emotional connection in couples. It can be helpful for couples who are experiencing a range of difficulties, including communication problems, conflict, infidelity, and other issues.

If you are struggling with communication in your romantic relationship, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Marcy Daniels, MSW, RSW can provide you with the support and guidance you need to improve your communication skills and build a stronger, healthier relationship. Contact her today at 902-702-7722 or visit our website at https://restorecounselling.ca to learn more about our services and how she can help you


The Many Effects of Childhood Trauma in Adulthood

The Many Effects of Childhood Trauma in Adulthood

Childhood trauma not only impacts the person in their early years, but it continues to impact them into adulthood.  The focus of this blog is to explore the effects of childhood trauma on adults.

Childhood trauma is a common problem that affects many people in Canada.  Indigineous people, older adults, folks in the LGTBQIA+ community and immigrants are more likely to have experienced trauma in childhood.  Statistically, 3 out of every 10 Canadians over the age of 15 has experieced physcial or sexual abuse before the age of 15.

This is significant because trauma in childhood can  have a profound impact on an individual’s mental, emotional, and physical health, as well as their ability to form healthy relationships. The long-term effects of childhood trauma can be devastating, leading to a wide range of mental and physical health problems that can affect a person’s quality of life for years to come.

For individuals who have experienced childhood trauma, the effects can be especially challenging to overcome. Many people struggle with trust issues, intimacy issues, and difficulty forming close relationships. They may also experience chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, and may be at increased risk for mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How Childhood Trauma Affects People in Adulthood

Here are some of the most notable effects of childhood trauma in adulthood;

1) Forming Healthy Bonds and Relationship

Childhood trauma can have a significant impact on adult in love relationship and on attachment styles. Secure attachment is characterized by a sense of safety, trust, and comfort in relationships. However, childhood trauma can contribute to developing insecure attachment styles;  anxious or avoidant or disorganized attachment.  Research suggests that our early experiences with our caregivers shape our attachment styles and strategies.  Often people who have experienced childhood trauma engage in behaviours from  one of the 3 forms of insecure attachment styles.

In adulthood, anxious attachment patterns can play out in romantic relationships, leading to difficulty forming secure and healthy attachments. Anxious attachment in romantic relationships is characterized by a strong need for intimacy and fear of rejection, abandonment, and separation. Individuals with anxious attachment tend to rely heavily on their partners for emotional support and reassurance, and may become highly distressed when their partner is not available or responsive to them. They may also struggle with jealousy and clinginess, and often experience feelings of insecurity and doubt in their relationships. They may become overly dependent on their partners for emotional support.

On the other hand, adults who have experienced childhood trauma may also exhibit avoidant attachment, characterized by a tendency to withdraw from relationships and to avoid emotional intimacy. These individuals may struggle with trusting others and may feel uncomfortable with vulnerability and emotional closeness.

Avoidant attachment is typically formed in childhood through experiences of neglect or emotional unavailability from caregivers, or through traumatic experiences such as abandonment or loss. In adulthood, these attachment patterns can continue to play out in romantic relationships, leading to difficulty forming secure and healthy attachments.

Avoidant attachment in relationships is characterized by a tendency to avoid closeness and emotional intimacy with a romantic partner. Individuals with avoidant attachment may feel uncomfortable with emotional closeness, may have difficulty expressing their feelings or needs, and may prioritize their independence and self-sufficiency over their relationship. Avoidant attachment can make it difficult to form deep, meaningful connections with romantic partners, and can lead to a sense of emotional distance or disconnection in relationships.

Someone who grows up in an environment where their caregiver, who is meant to nurture and protect them, is also a source of fear can develop an fearful/avoidant or disorganized attachment style.  Disorganized attachment perhaps less often spoken about than secure, anxious or avoidant, but it equally important type of attachment to be aware of.

This style of attachment behaviours can develop in response to experiences of trauma or abuse in childhood. Disorganized attachment is characterized by a lack of clear patterns of behavior in relationships, as individuals with disorganized attachment may display both avoidant and anxious behaviors in relationships. They may also exhibit erratic or unpredictable behavior, and may struggle with self-regulation and emotional expression. People with a disorganized attachment style still want (and I would argue, need, since we are wired biologically for connection) to have someone to be close emotionally, however they struggle to to ever let their guard down and be truly vulnerable with their partner.

It’s important to note that the impact of childhood trauma on attachment styles is not universal, and individuals may develop different attachment styles depending on a variety of factors, including their experiences after childhood and their personality traits. It’s also important to remember that insecure attachment styles are not a life sentence, and it is possible to develop more secure attachment patterns in adulthood through therapy or other forms of personal growth and self-awareness.




2) Challenges with Parenting

Individuals who have experienced trauma may face unique challenges when it comes to parenting.  This can show up in many different ways, but a few examples of the impact of childhood trauma on parenting include;

1. Difficulty regulating emotions: Trauma can make it difficult for individuals to regulate their own emotions, which can impact their ability to respond calmly and effectively to their children’s emotional needs. If somone is cut off from their own emotions it can also be very difficult to attune to someone else and according to relationship expert Dr. Erin Leonard, attunement and empathy are what helps children to trust and open up to their parents.

2. Re-experiencing trauma: Trauma can cause individuals to re-experience traumatic events or have flashbacks during moments of intense emotions with their own children which can make it difficult to be fully present with their children. Perhaps loud noises, like a child banging a toy on the floor or an infant’s prolonged crying can be distressing to a nervous system that has experienced trauma. This can lead to the parent reacting from being triggered rather than a more mindful parenting response.

3. Negative self-image: Trauma can impact a person’s self-esteem and self-image, which can make it difficult to feel confident in their ability to parent effectively. The Postitive Parenting Project explains that when parents have high self-esteem, they tend to be more optimistic and to transmit that positive mindset to our children.  These parents have more likely been raised in an environment of praise and warnth and it tends to feel more natural for them to offer the same positive reinforcement to their children. Conversly, people who grew up in homes that were high in criticism may be more likely to point out to children what they have done wrong or how they could have done better or forget to celebrate their successes.

It’s important to remember that people who have experienced trauma can still be effective and loving parents. Being aware of our past and the potential impact that it may have is part of developing self awareness and can be what motivates people to learn new skills and strategies and to heal their past trauma.

3) Developing Health Conditions

Have you ever heard of an ACE score? Your ACE score tallies the number of adverse events you experienced in your life before the age of 18. Take the quiz here. In fact, an NIH study found that found that adults who had experienced 4 or more ACEs showed a 12 times higher prevalence of health risks such as alcoholism, drug use, depression, and suicide attempts.

The link between experiencing adverse childhood events and chronic disease is also becoming increasingly clear. For every increase in the ACE score of 1 point, risk for developing an autoimmune disease such as type 1 diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and many others goes up by 20%.

An ACE score of only 2 increases the chances of being hospitalized for an autoimmune disease by 70 to 80%.

For this reason it is very helpful to work with a holistic mental health practitioner who is able to help you explore the physical and mental health aspects of having experienced adverse early live events.


4) People Pleasing and Lack of Boundaries

Because as humans we are biologically driven to form an attachment with a caregiver, even when they also a source of critical, shaming, neglectful, or abusive behaviour, children learn to adapt to their circumstances. This can often present as people pleasing, perfectionism and appeasing that has roots in childhood which carries into adulthood and relationships.

This behaviour is often described as the fawn response. This term was coined by licensed psychotherapist Pete Walker, MA in his book “Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving.”

which describes a way of responding to a threat by trying to ‘disarm it’ becoming more appealing to the threat. Dr. Arielle Schwartz noted that In many cases, children will then turn their negative feelings toward themselves. As a result, the anger fuels self-criticism, self-loathing, or self-harming behaviors. In adulthood, this process can evolve into depression or somatic symptoms of pain or illness.


Getting the Help You Need to Move Through the Trauma

The impact of childhood trauma on adults can be profound and long-lasting. Trauma can shape our beliefs, behaviors, and relationships in ways that can be difficult to overcome without proper support and intervention. However, it’s important to remember that healing and recovery are possible. By recognizing the ways in which trauma has impacted our lives, seeking out professional help, and building supportive relationships, we can begin to address the underlying issues and work towards healing and growth. It’s important to approach the healing process with patience, self-compassion, and a willingness to confront difficult emotions and memories. With time and effort, it is possible to overcome the effects of childhood trauma and move towards a more fulfilling and empowered life. Remember, it’s never too late to seek out help and begin the journey towards healing.

If you or someone you know has been impacted by childhood trauma, know that help is available. At Restore Renew Revive counseling & couples therapy, we specialize in providing supportive, compassionate therapy services to help individuals and couples heal from trauma and overcome life’s challenges. Marcy is trained to use evidence-based techniques to help clients build resilience, work through difficult emotions, and develop the skills they need to live their best lives. To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment, please call us at 902-702-7722 or visit our website at https://www.restorecounselling.ca 

Don’t wait to take the first step towards healing – reach out to us today.

How to Navigate Infertility

How to Navigate Infertility

Films and television shows would have us believe that conceiving a child is the easiest thing in the world. For some this may be true. But for many couples, getting pregnant seems almost impossible.


And so we seek the help and guidance from fertility specialists, convinced modern technology will help us create the family we’ve been dreaming of. We begin treatments with the hope that one of them will finally take.


Along the way, we feel a multitude of emotions, from shame and guilt to fear and sadness. Oh, and let’s not forget the unmitigated mental exhaustion.


If you are going through your own infertility journey and can relate to all of this, here are some tips to help you navigate:


You’re Not Alone

If all of your friends are having babies, your relatives have had babies, and it seems like the whole world (but you) is having babies, understand that you are not alone. In fact, one in six couples in Canada struggles to get pregnant or sustain a pregnancy.


Focus on the Present

Often, experiencing challenges with conception make it very easy to slip into thought patterns of predicting or anticipating the worst or dreaming about how life will be at some future moment. Being present in the now will help you appreciate what you presently have and lower the impact of stress on your body.



The healthier you are, the better your chances of becoming pregnant. It’s easy to let stress build-up, and then give in to those comfort food cravings. But now is the time to take optimal care of your mind, body and spirit. Eat whole foods, drink plenty of filtered water and get plenty of rest. Stay away from toxic people and situations and prioritize your well-being.


Connect with Others

It’s not always easy to discussing infertility with family, friends, or in the workplace. Often, people want to keep these challenges private to avoid having to have difficult conversations or getting unsolicited advice. However, keeping all this to yourself, or just between yourself and your partner can feel very isolating. Consider connecting with resources such as FMC Atlantic provinces Support Groups


You may also find it helpful to speak with a therapist who can help you navigate the powerful emotions you and your partner are feeling. I help couples who are struggling with infertility talk more clearly with each other about what they are going through and find ways to navigate this difficult and potentially discouraging journey more effectively. I’d love to help you.





Even Miracles Take a Little Time: How to Navigate Infertility the Smart Way


How to Navigate the Emotions of Infertility

Couples: How to Regulate Yourself During Difficult Conversations

Couples: How to Regulate Yourself During Difficult Conversations

Sharing your life with someone means having open and honest conversations, even when those conversations are a bit difficult. But that’s easier said than done.

During hard conversations, it’s common for many people to become triggered by something their partner has said. Calm one moment, but the next they’re thrown into “fight or flight” mode, their brain sensing danger. Before they know it, the most primitive part of their brain is activated in an effort to help them survive. And this is when things can get ugly. Because it’s fairly impossible to speak calmly and rationally when your entire body is in survival mode.

Luckily there are things we can do during difficult conversations to regulate our emotional responses and keep ourselves calm and level-headed.

Pause and Breathe

As soon as you start to feel triggered, pause and take a few slow, deep breaths. While deep breathing may seem like a cliche, it is actually a very powerful tool that helps us get out of “fight or flight” mode and into a more relaxed state. When we breathe slowly and deeply, it sends a signal to our brain that we are out of danger.

Be Curious

Rather than approaching the conversation with assumptions or preconceived judgements about the other person, do your best to be curious about what might be at the heart of their beliefs or behaviours.

Being Right is not the Aim

When we feel hurt or wronged, it is easy to get stuck trying to prove we’re right or that our feelings are justified. Rarely does it help to persist until the other person ‘admits defeat’ in a difficult conversation. Instead, try to remember the common goals or aims you have in your relationship and see how you can work towards them as a team.

Remember Your Values

Even in difficult moments it’s helpful to remind yourself about the person you want to be and what you want to stand for in your relationship. Perhaps being authentic, kind or patient are particularly important to you. Slowing down long enough to reconnect with this values that you’d like to embody is particularly important during difficult conversations or moments of conflict,

Moving Forward

Difficult conversations are inevitable when you are in any kind of relationship. But if you use these tips to regulate yourself, you can remain calm and communicate effectively with your partner. If you’d like some more help, please reach out to me. I specialize in helping couples communicate more effectively.





Pin It on Pinterest