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How We Help
Being stuck in constant conflict with a partner, family member or colleague can leave you frustrated and depleted. The cumulative wear and tear can eventually take its toll on the relationship. Couples come to us because the fighting does not stop or they have grown distance and are experiencing profound loneliness. We provide caring, non-judgmental therapy that safeguards your personal dignity, addresses and corrects the root of the problem, and empowers you to build relationship that is much freer from ugly conflict and feels much more connected.
Why Fix the Relationship?
With divorce rates at 50% and common law disintegration at significantly higher rates, we understand that the human family is in crisis. We know that the benefit accrued to staying married provides a whole series of benefits only one of which is a 15% increase in longevity. Such benefits are one time only. The cost of relationship failure to partners and children can be significant. The loss to everyone involved is more than the loss of this benefit. “Hold the relationship together for the children” or “don’t hold the relationship together for the children” are folk wisdoms that fail to understand the complexity of health, well being and relationship. We are quite certain that just holding onto a very unhappy relationship is not enough. High conflict relationship can be psychologically and physiologically damaging for partners and children. If we want the best for our life and for our children we have to make our relationship work for both partners. Than everyone gets the benefits of happy sustained relationship and no one suffers from the loss of that relationship.
Our Philosophy on “How We Will Help”
Here at Mike Fidler & Associates we have decided that we are not in the business of breaking up relationships. Couples can fire us if they decide to break up. Our commitment is to help you make your relationship work. We will help you discern what you need to do and we will engage you in a process to fix it.
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Fix the Emerging Problem or Be Proactive: Learn and Live Your Relationship Consciously
Unfortunately many couples receive help well after the problems have surfaced and festered. Research shows that on average, couples wait six years from the first signs of problems before they seek help.
We encourage you to be proactive. Invest in your relationship before it goes south by consciously making an effort to build a sound relationship. We offer couples help in two ways. First we help by providing couples’ therapy to assist you to work on specific issues. See Intense Relationship Therapy as an alternative to weekly sessions.
Secondly we help by providing a Couple’s Workshop The Art & Science of Love that develops relationship awareness and promotes a skill set that models the “Masters of Relationship”. After attending this workshop you will have a vision, map and experience of what you want your relationship to be. You will have a means to stay out of painfully “negative self absorbing states” while creating for yourself an imperfect but dream relationship.
If you didn’t have a pre-marriage or a pre-relationship course take one now and use knowledge gleaned from the masters of relationship to your benefit. Live your relationship consciously.
We Help You Shift Away from Painful Conflict
A “negative self absorbing state” as John Gottman describes is like the Roach Motel Trap once the creature enters there is no exit. High conflict relationships are like these traps once the conflict begins the couple becomes quickly emotionally trapped and unable to move beyond this interactional state into kind, concerned and responsive reactions to the other. If this starts and repeats the internal mounting distrust, sense of betrayal and hurt will often lead to an undermining of commitment. If you get help sooner as opposed to later to climb out of a pit of negative interactional behaviour your despair and resentment towards one another will not be an additional problem to overcome. See Susan Johnson’s book “Hold Me Tight” for negative interactional cycles” and See Gottman’s “What Makes Love Last” for the process that undermines trust through multiple kinds of betrayal.
We will help you sift this negative pattern of painful engagement to create mutual understanding within a safe context, so that you will know each other differently and experience each other more positively. But we do not want to stop there. We want to set the ground work so that you can return to a positive interactional pattern and take charge of protecting it and improving upon it.
We Help You Deal with the Issue/s that Really Matter
Much of what we fight about isn’t what we seem to be fighting. Within our fights are embedded meanings about our need for self worth, our need to know that the other is there for us, our need to matter to the other, our need for self respect or our need to be right and many other possibilities. We will help you have the discussion or “civil fight” that reveals your need. This will create the opportunity for you to care for each other in a deeply meaningful way.
We Help You Find Your Way Back to Each Other
Some relationships move from negative conflictual interactional patterns to emotional distance and parallel lives. This trade in of conflict for emotional distance can over time create a sense that the relationship is dead. A partner may say to the other “I love you but I am not in love with you”. When couples start to have less demand on their time they often notice their loneliness and sense of disconnection. They want a more connected and meaningful relationship. Hidden within in this emotional distance often is a major anger muted by the emotional distance. We help you become more engaged, assist you with developing a more positive conflictual interactional pattern and help you process your anger toward forgiveness and trust.
We Help You Mend the Pile of Little Betrayals
Some relationships do not suffer from highly volatile conflict instead they suffer from something more insidious. Insidious because it is not obvious and builds up over time like feathers on a scale each having an impact but only after a period of accumulation does the scale seem to tip. When the scale is tipped the fight seems all out of proportion to the moment. Everything seems to matter that came before it. These are the “sliding door moments” of relationship that Gottman talks about in his book “The Relationship Cure”. These “sliding door moments” are as simple as when you ask your partner to pay attention like acknowledging a comment or as complex as making love and everything in between. We know that when you turn to your partner and it goes unanswered you tend to stop turning to them for moment to moment connection. Your sense of hurt and loneliness will be indicators that trouble is brewing and if these patterns do not get fixed between you, reach out for help. We will help your get more connected and make amends to each other for the accumulated hurt.
We Help You Mend the Big Betrayal/s
There are more dramatic ways in which we can turn away or against our partner through infidelity or addictions to drugs, alcohol, pornography, work and a myriad of other possibilities. These are big obvious painful moments and collections of moments that need to be processed and trustworthiness rebuilt ultimately moving toward renewed relationship and forgiveness.
Our Philosophy of Professional Learning
We believe that through our couples’ therapy and educational services we can help people repair troubled relationships, and help couples and their families remain strong and healthy. It is our mission to reach out to families in order to help create and maintain greater love and health in relationships. We are committed to an ongoing program of research that increases our understanding of relationships and adds to the development of interventions that have been carefully evaluated. We employ the methods of Dr’s John & Julie Gottman, Dr. Susan Johnson, Dr. Les Greenberg, and Dr. Stan Tatkin.
Dr. Gottman has reviewed the most effective methods of clinical intervention within the research literature identifying emotion as a key ingredient in effective lasting change within a couple’s relationship. Dr. Gottman’s perspective brings a broad understanding of relationship integrating multiple relationship concepts into one unitary model based upon the observations of what successful couples do. We integrate into our approach therapies that have an emotional focus and employ methods that augment Gottman Methods.
Practice Theory and Interventions that Influence Couple’s Therapy at Mike Fidler & Associates:
Gottman Therapy – Just as Masters and Johnson were pioneers in the study of human sexuality, Dr. John Gottman has revolutionized the study of marriage. For three decades, John Gottman has conducted research on all facets of married life, including parenting issues. His research has led to a proven approach that strengthens happy marriages and committed relationships and supports and repairs troubled ones. The approach assists couples to develop the skill sets of the masters of relationship and to manage the negative patterns of communication. This approach focuses on the dreams behind conflicts, regulating conflict, repairing cumulative betrayals big and small and the rebuilding of friendship. The approach focuses on couple work. Dr. Gottman believes in the inclusion of other therapeutic approaches consist with the general tenets of Gottman Therapy. Gottman therapeutic intervention begins with thorough assessment which examines, friendship, conflict regulation including negative interactional patterns, meaning, trust, commitment and more. The therapist negotiates the “work” with the couple and the formal therapy begins. Even though assessment fades into the back ground it is ever present and we are always curious about what is happening within your relationship and how we can most effectively assist you.
All of our couple’s therapists are trained in Gottman Therapy level one and level two. Many of the clinicians have received additional training with Dr. Johnson. Mike Fidler is a certified Gottman Therapist, certified Couples Workshop Leader and certified therapist trainer in Gottman Methods. The couple’s clinical team at Mike Fidler and Associates consult with Mike as required.
Emotionally Focused Therapy– Dr. Susan Johnson -. The theory of EFT is predicated on a theory of relatedness called attachment theory. Developed fifty years ago by John Bowlby, who studied the psychological adjustment of babies and children who were orphaned during the Second World War, Bowlby concluded that all humans possess an innate yearning for trust and security, or attachment. Children have needs for attachment with at least one parent, and adults have these needs with a romantic partner. According to attachment theory, then, every individual has a legitimate yearning for a secure attachment to a significant partner. A secure attachment is understood as a close, trusting relationship in which each person experiences fulfillment of legitimate dependency needs for contact/comfort and acceptance/safety. In a secure attachment, both people experience the relationship as a safe haven, a source of security and comfort rather than distress.
It follows from attachment theory, that when partners are in conflict, they no longer experience a secure attachment to their partner. Finally, EFT theory maintains that the negative fight cycle is a partner’s misguided but well-intentioned attempt to establish a secure, trusting attachment. The goal of EFT is to help distressed couples reestablish a secure trusting attachment, in which their dependency needs for contact/comfort and acceptance/safety are met.
Our clinicians are trained in Dr. Johnson’s and Dr. Gottman’s methods.
Mike Fidler has received advanced training from Dr. Johnson and blends EFT and Gottman methods in his therapeutic approaches providing couples with a unique combination of therapeutic experiences which are based upon sound research. The attachment needs represent a cluster of some of the key dreams behind reoccurring conflicts. Dr Johnson as does Dr. Greenberg puts a heavy emphasis on the negative interactional cycle approach/withdrawal encouraging the couple to change this cycle so other needs can be more consistently met. We encourage the couple to make their negative interactional cycle their enemy not each other.
Dr. Leslie Greenberg, Ph.D., is Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology at York University in Toronto, Ontario. He is Director of the York University Psychotherapy Research Clinic and is the developer of Emotion Focused Therapy. He is similar to Dr. Johnson in his therapeutic approach but brings an additional focus on power in relationship. Dr. Greenburg provides a rich empathetic language associated with dominance submissive interactional patterns and targets this interactional pattern for change.
Mike has received advanced training from Dr. Greenberg and uses his methods and Gottman methods when dealing with negative issues associated with influence. Dr. Greenberg’s recent research in forgiveness supports and adds richness to Dr Gottman’s work in the area of trust and trust worthiness.
Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT, is a clinician, researcher, teacher, and developer of A Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy® called PACT. Dr. Tatkin has a threefold focus in his therapeutic approach.
“The first is neuroscience, the study of the human brain. Understanding how the brain works provides a physiological basis for understanding how people act and react within relationships. In a nutshell, some areas of your brain are wired to reduce threat and danger and seek security, while others are geared to establish mutuality and loving connection.” The second is attachment theory, which explains the biological need to bond with others. Experiences in early relationships create a blueprint that informs the sense of safety and security you bring to adult relationships. Insecurities that have been carried through life can wreck havoc for a couple if these issues are not resolved enough to create mostly secure relationship with your partner. “The third area is the biology of human arousal—meaning the moment-to-moment ability to manage one’s energy, alertness, and readiness to engage.”
Mike has been trained in this method and uses it to augment Gottman Methods when dealing with distress, conflict and increasing trust.