We are complex beings with hopes, dreams, fears, vulnerabilities, shame, goals, desires and longings. We want to be close to people, to feel connected, accepted, celebrated and loved. Interestingly, we tend to attach performance and/or perfection to those things... fearing that if we are not performing well or perfect, we will not feel accepted, celebrated or loved. How sad that we (many of us) have learned to weave those things together, as if our imperfections will threaten the unraveling of the entire tapestry of connection.
I sit with people in their moments of deep and scary vulnerability, gifted with the opportunity to hold space for them that allows for imperfection, stumbling over words, tears, frustrations and fear... absolutely no perfection or performance required. In fact, letting go of the need to perform allows for us to clarify and actively tend to areas that are most important to us. Our relationships with others, our relationship with ourselves, our relationship with God. I fully understand the fear of letting go of perfection... and the fear that if someone sees you in your mess you will feel disconnected and alone.
Give yourself the opportunity to show up fully in your life and in your relationships, without fear of having to perform perfectly. I think the start of 2019 presents an awesome opportunity for you to discover that new, perfection-free space. Rather than adding more tasks to your do-to list, additional goals that you'll let go of by February or rewriting the same resolutions over and over again... uncover and nurture the things that are already within you and in front of you! Perfection not required. :)
Have a wonderful, peaceful and safe new year!
What would happen if someone gave you permission to be imperfect? Would it feel like a weight has been lifted or would you find yourself wanting to push back out of fear of what imperfect means to you? As much as we work to be authentic in our lives and relationships, it can be really difficult to let go the idea of having to perform, having to get it right all the time, having to be perfect.
Do you wonder what happened to the fun girl you used to be married to or the guy who used to give you all kinds of loving attention? You know, the one who now shuts you down when you try to talk or sleeps at the edges of the bed... yeah, that person.
There are conversations you could be having to help come closer but you're likely never going to have those at home. Not because either of you are incapable but simply because you don't know what they are and, even if you did, there's usually way too much tension and hurt present for anything to be heard or understood by either partner.
The Hold Me Tight© Workshop is a weekend workshop for couples who would like to learn why their dynamic feels off, no matter how much they try to fix it. Couples who want to learn how to be closer to each other and have more productive, meaningful conversations. The curriculum is based on the work of Dr. Sue Johnson, developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples.
Our next workshop is in just a couple of weeks on June 9th and 10th. We would love to have you join us!
For more details about the workshop, and to register, please visit
If you have any questions at all, please contact me (through the contact page HERE). My friend and colleague, Dana Vince, and I facilitate this workshop together in a casual environment that allows people to relax and focus on their relationship for two solid days. You will have our help, guidance and support through the entire weekend as you both learn new skills to help improve your marriage.
Both of you will walk away from the weekend with a LOT of powerful information and insight about your relationship. You will learn why all of your efforts to fix were not working before and, more importantly, you will both learn skills that will actually help you move closer to each other and become stronger as a couple.
Visit www.holdmetightknoxville.com for more information about the workshop, read testimonials of couples who have recently participated, and to find out about fees, location and more.
We look forward to meeting you!
When your spouse says something to you like, "We need counseling," it can be hard to hear. You may get upset, deny that your marriage needs any help, suggest that your partner is the only one with a problem or even completely ignore what is happening because you just do not want to go there. The reality is, whether it's painful to hear or not, there is something very real happening in your marriage if your partner says they want to go to counseling with you.
I know there are people who hear counseling (especially marriage counseling) and think "NOPE, not happening." I completely understand. It can be really uncomfortable to think about talking with a third party about the intimate details of your relationship. You may think, "I'll just fix it myself," or "We'll be fine" and plug along doing the same things you've always done. You hope that your spouse will get over it and this will pass. Unfortunately, this approach is not effective. In fact, many times the hurt grows deeper and partners become more and more disconnected.
Simply put, doing the same things you've always done isn't going to work. If it could, it would've been working already. There is a reason you and your spouse keep having the same conversations over and over (and over). Find out why this is happening and learn REAL methods that will help you and your spouse feel closer and more connected with each other.
Our weekend workshop for couples is a great way to help you build a better marriage. It is a wonderful option for those who are reluctant to go counseling... this is small group workshop format that delivers key information for you and your spouse to start doing something different. Honestly, if there was one thing I would want to share with couples in distress it would be: Stop making this harder than it already feels. We can help you!
Benefits of attending a Weekend Workshop:
1) Time limited: In one weekend (2 days) you will learn a wealth of information about why what you've been doing isn't working and what to do differently to improve your marriage. Who doesn't have one weekend available to invest in their marriage? Oh stop it, yes you do... :)
2) Cost effective: For two full days, you and your spouse will be learning from two advanced EFT trained therapists who specialize in marriage counseling. One marriage counseling session (50 mins) costs roughly $130-150. So, let's split that down the middle for simplicity at $140 per therapy session... $140 x 13 hours = more than a weekend workshop fee!
3) No pressure to share: These workshops are not therapy. It is a small group learning format where a small number of couples will be getting the same information at the same time. You and your spouse will be given opportunities after each section to privately practice some of the skills you're learning. Dana Vince (who is certified in EFT and an EFT supervisor) and I will be right there for you if you get stuck or need help during that private practice time.
The weekend workshops are a great way to renew hope and get something positive going again in your marriage. We would love to have you join us for our upcoming workshop on February 3rd and 4th! Make your marriage better in 2018. If you've been in counseling before and have found it unhelpful, we strongly encourage you to attend. If you are thinking about starting marriage counseling, or want to go but have a spouse who doesn't, this is a wonderful option for all the reasons listed above.
Click HERE to register for the next weekend workshop on Feb 3rd & 4th.
Have questions? Contact me anytime. I'm happy to answer questions about counseling services or the upcoming workshop.
Join us for our next weekend workshop in February
and make this a better year for your marriage!
Hold Me Tight® workshops are two-day intensives for couples, based on Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). As a part of EFT Knoxville, I am excited to share with you that these powerful workshops will start being offered in Knoxville in just a couple of months! The first workshop for 2018 is scheduled for Feb 3rd and 4th.
Your marriage may be in one of the following situations:
Hold Me Tight® workshops are limited to 10 couples and offer an opportunity for you to learn a vault of helpful information in a short period of time. In the course of one weekend, you and your partner will focus on learning things like:
Want a better, stronger, closer marriage? The Hold Me Tight® workshop is a great way to get a powerful jump start. Even if you are already in marriage counseling... and especially if you and/or your partner know you're marriage doesn't feel good right now but not sure about "counseling"... you will find this workshop beneficial.
Contact me for more information or learn more about how to register for an upcoming Hold Me Tight® workshop. You can also visit the EFT Knoxville website at www.eftknoxville.com.
Wishing you a great marriage in 2018!
A sweet client of mine was processing with me the sudden loss of her husband. As we talked about feelings of loneliness she stated, "It's quiet... a loud quiet, if that makes sense." Oh yes, it makes sense and I bet many of you reading this can identify with what she was describing. You might experience the loud quiet as a result of loss like my client, a hurting marriage, overwhelm as a parent, stress at work, demands from family or even an unsettled past. When we feel emotionally burdened or hurting, the quiet can seem very, very loud.
One common reaction to the loud quiet is to want to get away from it as quickly as possible. It doesn't feel good, it can even feel scary or overwhelming. Of course we wouldn't want to stay there! Who would? We do all kinds of things to get away. We distract ourselves with tasks, we may drink, overwork ourselves, have affairs, gamble, the list goes on and on. We do something... anything... that allows us to not have to experience the loud quiet. What scares us so much about the loud quiet, though? What makes us want to get away from it so quickly?
Of course the answer to this would be different for each of us, depending on our circumstance and how the loud quiet feels to us in the moment. The one thing that would likely be a common thread, though, within our answers is, "It's too big for me." The quiet becomes so loud because of the depth of emotion we're experiencing and the speed of the thoughts swirling around in our mind during those moments. It all feels so big, complicated and impossible. We feel it move toward us and might think, "I can't handle this."
If you take a moment to slow down and plant your feet, I think you would surprise yourself with all that you can actually do. The loud quiet isn't a big, heavy impossible monster to be battled and tamed. It is a lot of thought and emotion that longs to be seen, heard and understood. I help people sort through those challenging spaces, to calm and soften the edges, to find peace and to allow the quiet to not feel so loud anymore.
The amount of time and energy it often takes to sort through these things is so much less than the energy it takes to run from it or escape. Not to mention, much less harmful to you and your family than the options you might be choosing (or thinking about choosing) to use as an escape right now. You don't have to do all of this on your own.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Counseling for Women & Couples
Isn't marriage weird? We go through life and end up crossing paths with someone and ask, "Will you be my friend for the rest of our lives?" That's a pretty big question to answer but doesn't seem so hard in the beginning. Let's fast forward a few years, especially around the 7-8 year mark, and you both might be looking at each other going, "WHAT was I thinking!?"
Relationships are complicated and messy but, the good news is, they are also super flexible and forgiving. By that I simply mean that things we may have declared as "deal breakers" before walking down the aisle aren't as cut and dry when you add years of shared life experiences to the mix, along with significant life decisions, memories, family / social bonds and possibly children. Not so easy anymore to quickly say, "I'm done."
I'm sharing all of this to help normalize what you may be experiencing in your own marriage right now. Maybe you feel betrayed, hurt, alone or frustrated and trying so hard to figure out what step to take next... should you stay or should you go? This level of decision making can be downright crazy making and consuming. In fact, I can feel the stress and tension rising up in me simply writing about it!
When people are faced with this kind of heavy decision making, it can feel hopeless because you keep looking at the same person, the same information, feeling the same feelings and left to believe there is no chance for anything different. Our views, thoughts, and even emotions, can begin to feel rigid. One of my goals in working with couples is to help them regain some flexibility in the relationship dynamic. Working together, partners can begin seeing aspects of their spouse that they haven't seen or felt in years... maybe ever. Tension can begin to soften and people can start to feel hopeful.
Even if you've been in marriage counseling before, I encourage you to try again. Emotionally Focused Therapy is an evidence-supported approach to marriage counseling that offers much more than dry, stale "solutions" to old "problems." As a male client just stated this week about previous counseling attempts, "We're not looking for advice on how to argue better." EFT helps couples get to a place where they can see and hear each other... and find connection and partnership again (or possibly for the first time).
Counseling doesn't have to take years, really. The time spent in counseling is not only an investment into the health of your marriage, but likely will end up being a fraction of the amount of time you have spent feeling hurt, alone or angry. Call me anytime with questions or to schedule your first appointment.
Have a wonderful Friday!
Jodi Clarke, MA, LPC/MHSP, NCC
Licensed Professional Counselor
National Certified Counselor
Knoxville, TN 37931
Grace Counseling Associates, PLLC