Category Archives: Relationships

The invisible barrier – communication issues in relationships

Jo Turner, our relationship therapist , writes about the communication challenges that can block our intimate relationships:

“We communicate with others in many ways and in intimate relationships, we often use many non-verbal actions to express how we feel. Subtle behavioural changes, slight gestures, our body language, are a few of the ways we try to show our partner how we feel about ourselves and about them.

I am using the term the “invisible barrier”, as the nuances are often subtle, such as, feeling a tension, an atmosphere, or a chronic, underlying unhappiness between us. The invisible is felt and the barrier prevents us from taking action – our emotions are stuck. Open-ness and sharing in the relationship appear lost, exacerbating our feelings of isolation.

Sometimes we cannot find words to describe our invisible barrier – it’s a feeling – often powerful and uncomfortable. The invisible barrier ensures that we maintain a state of gridlock, neither partner able or willing to move towards breaking it down.

Why do we remain in this position of resistance? What purpose does it serve?

There are many reasons why and some of the feelings, for example are – shame, fear, despondency, or low self-esteem.

Connected to these feelings, are behaviours which we display in our relationship, such as – passive aggression, covert power play and control, stubborn-ness, avoidance and withdrawal.

To protect ourselves from painful feelings, we naturally find ways of coping and can often display behaviours to maintain the barrier (which can be conscious and unconscious), keeping others at a distance.

Positioned behind an invisible barrier we can feel lonely and helpless. The presence of the barrier indicates that there is something on either side. We often only feel the effects on our side of the barrier, having no idea that our partner positioned on the other side may feel the same…… lonely and helpless.

Confronting the invisible barrier, bravely taking steps towards it and exploring how it could be dismantled, are actions we can do symbolically within the safe and confidential confines of the counselling/psychotherapy session. The process can provide us with the space to understand our own behavioural positions each side of the invisible barrier, allow us to uncover the source of the resistance and try to make changes.

Talking and sharing together can start to make the barrier visible, giving us something to work with. Breaking the barrier down can help us feel open and available to each other.


September 2015

Jo Turner, PG Dip. Mar. Th. MBACP (Accred.) Relationship therapist.

Talking about sex in therapy

From IVF to orgasms, viagra to virginity, Saturday’s ‘Sexually Speaking’ seminar on addressing sexual issues in therapy gave us plenty to think about. The speaker, psychosexual psychotherapist, Karen Lloyd, offers a CBT-based programme of therapy to couples experiencing problems in their sexual relationship. We learnt that one of the first steps in any sex therapy is to take the pressure right off the physical relationship and encourage couples to develop intimacy using strictly non-sexual touching (‘sensate focus’). We went on to look at our own early introductions to the topic of sex and to brainstorm as many words as we could for female and male genitalia – with the inevitable laughter and embarrassment! I may have thought I was ok talking about this subject, but actually using straightforward language about sex brought me up against some of my own internal barriers and inhibitions. Karen introduced us to some common sexual problems and the psychological issues that may underlie or augment physiological symptoms, and we finished the day with a useful introduction to sex addiction, particularly in relation to pornography, which Karen identified as a growing issue. All in all, we opened the lid on this sometimes awkward but always deeply personal topic. I would certainly like to learn more about this in future, and will aim to be more aware of the profound importance of sexuality, intimacy and physicality in all our lives.

Briony Martin – psychotherapist

This seminar was assessed by attendees as 4.57 out of 5 for the overall quality of the event. The speaker was rated 4.77. Thank you to all who attended this and previous seminars, we appreciate your participation and your feedback.

Change of season…. revitalising your relationship.

Spring is much in evidence all around us now and it’s at this time when we tend to feel more energetic and able to sort things out in our lives.

Sometimes we put off dealing with our emotional needs in the hope that something might change.   It can be difficult to initiate change for fear of unsettling our lives, even though we intuitively feel that there are unresolved issues.  

Taking time to talk about our thoughts and feelings together ( or separately) in a confidential and safe space is a way of starting to clarify our relationship issues.

What’s love got to do with it?

Jo Turner, our relationship therapist, writes:

Sometimes we feel the pressure of conforming with all things love related… when we actually feel that our relationship is affecting our well being.

Suppressing feelings and thoughts about our partners can sometimes lead to a slow build up of unresolved and unwanted emotions which can turn into resentment. Why do we feel unfulfilled? What do we want from our significant other? What do we want for ourselves?

Making space and time to talk together in a safe, confidential environment can help us to make sense of our relationship.

The quality of your life, is the quality of your relationships – Anthony Robbins.

Jo Turner
Relationship Therapist

Counselling and psychotherapy in West Berkshire and Wiltshire
PG Dip. Mar. Th. MBACP (Accred.)

Valentine blues

Friday 14th February – Valentine’s Day – can bring up difficult feelings for many of us, whether we are on our own or in a relationship. We place a huge amount of importance on our romantic attachments but they can also bring us a great deal of pain. Therapy is an opportunity to reflect on why we are as we are in relationships, what baggage we are bringing from the past and what we really want and need. Talking therapy can also help couples who are struggling to communicate.