Welcome to Armstrongs’ Counselling Services (ACS) webpage on our Model of Relationship Therapy.
We, Murray and Donna Armstrong, as learners have synthesized many different approaches and techniques into our own unique styles. Our website and this webpage specifically, provide you with an overall understanding of how we work with our clients. You can read about the main approaches we use by returning to the homepage to link to the many therapeutic approaches, trainings, and other resources available to you.
Being in a relationship, whether it is a traditional marriage or any other form of relationship is one of the greatest challenges most of us will probably have in our lifetime. At ACS, we talk about relationship in the broadest terms whether that relationship is a parent/child, sibling/sibling, family members, employer/employee, same sex couple, mentor/mentee, coach/athlete, family business, or friend/friend. We recognize there are universal dynamics and patterns that happen in all relationships as well as dynamics that are unique to that particular type of relationship.
At ACS, we believe life is learning. Relationships give people a special and powerful opportunity to learn to take in and give LOVE, to deal with conflict, and to work as a team towards the goals of life. We are rarely more vulnerable than when we are learning how to do this with those that are the most important to us. Most of us have been hurt, sometimes deeply, by someone we love or care for. This is unavoidable in life. How effectively we learn to handle this vulnerability/fear will determine the quality of our lives and the depth of contentment we achieve.
What typically brings any relationship into therapy is usually some immediate issue such as communication difficulties, some form of betrayal, depression, anger, anxiety, stress, finances, or irresolvable conflict to name but a few. Besides having to deal with these immediate concerns, relationship therapy may uncover deeper, often unconscious issues within the individuals. It can be argued that most of us live our lives more unconsciously than consciously; in other words, we are often unaware of what really motivates our reactions, thoughts, and/or feelings in a particular situation. In fact, perhaps the single, most difficult issue in a relationship is the ‘buttons’ or ‘emotional triggers’ that occur so frequently in the relationship that it creates a negative pattern that bonds the couple in dysfunctional reactions to each other, making both feel trapped in a never ending circle.
It has been our experience at ACS that it is the caring and/or love plus a common purpose that are the essential ingredients in building a relationship. However, it is the fire of conflict that welds the relationship together in a deep and compassionate way. It is out of conflict that a person has the potential to learn how to live from the authentic self that honours and respects each person in the relationship. True respect of self and the other person comes from a deep understanding and enjoyment of the differences in the relationship and has the ability to truly see how those differences add to the relationship. Therefore it is our philosophy to guide people to value and transform the power of conflict while not ignoring the dysfunctional aspects of conflict.
There are many different techniques and approaches to working with relationships. In our collective 60+ years of counselling/therapy, we have studied and practiced many different methods and over the years have integrated them into our own unique style. The four major therapeutic models that have influenced our model of working with individuals and relationships are Voice Dialogue (Psychology of the Selves and the Aware Ego Process), Advanced Integrative Therapy, Re-Creation of the Self and Emotionally Focused Therapy.
Regardless of the methods we use at Armstrongs’ Counselling Services, it has been our experience that if the love or commitment are in the relationship, it is almost always possible to find a way for the relationship to achieve the goals that brought them to therapy. If the love or commitment are not there or there is ambivalence, then the first task of therapy is to explore the ambivalence and lack of love or commitment. Sometimes success is having the relationship achieve a deep understanding of why the relationship cannot continue.
A successful outcome to relationship therapy depends on each person in the relationship being able to see how they each play a part in what is not working in the relationship. Even if one person is only contributing 10% to the problem, it is essential that he/she is willing to work on 100% of that 10%.
Murray is known for his specialization in men’s therapy. He offers individual sessions or experiential group training: “Creating Deeper Connection.” Murray is also specialized as an in depth marriage and family therapist.
Donna is known for her specialization in women’s counselling and experiential group training: “Women Embracing Wholeness: Level One & Level Two.” Donna is also specialized as a relationship counselor.