Developing Healthy Relationship Skills

Development of Healthy Relationship Skills

We begin to learn how to be in relationships when we are newborn infants.  The areas of the brain that are most important for relating are fully developed at birth.  Having a well-attuned parent who can deeply attach with us during those months of life is vital for the development of healthy relationship skills.  Those who do not receive this healthy attuned care-giving are likely to develop difficult attachment styles.  Problematic attachment styles are often at the root of many adult relationship problems. click here to read more



Validation is a vital part of healthy relationships. When a person is validated they feel safe, heard and understood. Validation is like water; we all need it. Invalidation is to question, reject, ignore, mock, tease, judge, or diminish someone’s thoughts/feelings. It can be an attempt to control how they feel. A child who is invalidated a great deal becomes confused and begins to distrust her own emotions. She fails to develop confidence in the healthy use of her emotional brain which is vital for survival. In trying to adapt to an unhealthy environment the working relationship between his thoughts and feelings becomes twisted. It is possible that his emotional responses, management and development will be impaired. The emotional processes which worked for her as a child may begin to work against her as an adult.

When we invalidate people by denying their perceptions, questioning, or misinterpreting them we make mental invalids of them. R. D. Laing found that when one’s feelings are denied a person can be made to feel crazy even if they are perfectly mentally healthy. read more!

How To Be Supportive


How do you help a friend when they need support?  This article describes how to effectively give support to other’s.

Most of us need someone to support us occasionally. We all go through difficult times; maybe we are grieving a loss, were hurt by someone else, are sick, in pain, lost a job, are feeling stressed, are trying to accomplish a goal that proves to be more difficult than we anticipated…..the list could go on and on. Difficult experiences are part of life and having a family member, spouse, or good friend who is genuinely supportive can be a gift. Being supportive is an act of caring for or loving someone. It is an essential part of a good enough relationship. Unfortunately many people don’t know how to be supportive. Many people have never experienced receiving support and haven’t learned how it’s done. Here are a few guidelines: Click to read guidelines

Collaborative Communication

Collab Commun Individual and Group


Collaboration definition: to work jointly with others especially in an intellectual endeavor.

“The greatest single antidote to violence is communication. Speaking of our affairs, listening to others and sharing our vulnerabilities is the genesis of hope.” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

  • Perception:  Social scientists believe that the perception of reality is subjective and there are very few black and white facts; none of us can read another person’s mind. The two diagrams above represent people.  In diagram (1) one person is depicted as being made up of his or her “filters” which include family culture, genetics, culture, perception, experience, education and memory.  Even identical twins will not have the same filters.  Because our children grow up in different families and times than we experienced they will have different perceptions/filters from ours.  Diagram (2) illustrates the complexity or relating to different individuals in different contexts. When one person is able to be empathic with another trust begins to build between them.  In order to communicate well with another person we need to ask them what they are thinking. It is too easy to assume we know what another person is thinking especially if we just read their facial expression/body language or tone of voice. When we assume we know what someone is thinking/feeling and comment from that assumption we often make communication mistakes.  The ability to accept another person’s perspective is vital in collaborative communication.
  • Click to read more

Collaborative Relationships


Collaboration allows two or more people to exchange their thoughts, feelings and perspective.  In doing this each person listening to others can take in the perspectives of others and choose to allow their own perspective to be modified or not.  People often benefit from different perspectives.

This involves each person respecting the right of others to their own perspective and their right to decide to change their perspective or not. Each individual can only participate through a manner of relating that they know. If this exchange of ideas is safe, nonintrusive, and interesting the exchange of new ideas might generate a new manner of relating to self, other and society.

Research has shown that living and working collaboratively with others (A) produces and heightens greater satisfaction in those relationships, (B) supports and deepens collaborative efforts with spouses, children, friends, students, clients, etc. and (C) has the potential to stimulate change on other levels such as larger systemic levels. Click to read more


Forehead to foreheadTrust is one of the most important qualities to have and maintain in relationships. The survival instinct will drive any of us to do what we believe we need to do to take care of ourselves. This is especially true if we have not learned all the complex and important skills of self-care. When people have healthy self respect and take the best of care of themselves they are able to avoid relationships with people who cannot be trustworthy. It is best when people are raised from birth to be trusting and trustworthy. Click to read more

Parenting As An Attuned Emotion Coach

All kinds of childrenA friend recently described his child as being very “narcissistic”. I replied, “Yes, children are narcissistic. It’s part of being a child and if they get emotionally wounded during this stage of life they may become a narcissist.” In order to prevent narcissistic wounding in your child it is important to be attuned to your children and help them learn how to handle their emotions. A parent must be attuned to their child and not dismiss the child’s emotions. Here are some pointers on how to do that. Click to read more

Men and Emotions


Historically, the consensus was that women are more emotional than men. Indeed, today many women still define themselves as more emotional than men. Over the past few decades many male clinicians, who have much experience working with men, have been disproving this idea. They have concluded that the majority of men have been socialized in a manner they refer to as, “brutal,” which teaches boys to repress and deny their emotions. In 1995 the American Psychological Association formed a new division called the, “Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity,” to gain more insight into the psychological effects of this socialization process. Click to read more

Little People with Big Ears and Soft Hearts

Little boy Large earsA habit I’ve noticed some parents have is talking negatively about their children in front of the child, as if the child weren’t present. Some people start this during the child’s infancy. When a child is old enough to recognize his/her name (3 months) it’s a habit to stop for good.

As adults we wouldn’t do that to one another. We would not stand in front of a friend and talk negatively about that friend, as if she/he wasn’t standing there. We are aware that the friend we are talking about would feel hurt. So why would we do it to our children? Click to read more

Self-Care: Not Just for Stars

Jump for joyRecently I was talking to a friend about the delightful series Grace and Frankie. I pointed out what amazing self care Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin must have been using over the years. I was especially delighted to see the scene in which Lily Tomlin does a sudden squat calling out “I’m flexible,” as she quickly jumps up out of the squat! Wonderful! My friend pointed out, “it’s their job to use good self-care.” Later on I thought “No, it’s everybody’s job to use good self-care.”

Unfortunately many people perceive self care as being part of vanity and only for the famous or beautiful. In some cases this may be a factor in self-care in others not so. As a very young woman I began to ride road bicycles as a way to get myself in shape after having children. Within a few rides it quickly became something else indeed; it became an absolute joy! I noticed my thinking and mood improving. Aerobic exercise improved my ability to think clearly/positively. I felt better all over. Luckily I found an aerobic exercise I thoroughly enjoyed. Two years later I found yoga and fell in love with yoga. So the self-care I began to do as a young woman became very much a part of who I was/am and how much better I felt because of it. It had nothing to do with how I looked. Although I eventually had to give up riding bicycles because I developed carpal tunnel syndrome I have never given up the yoga and I continue to hike. I do these activities because they help me feel better, I enjoy them, and they are my play. Click to read more