Seminar offers guidance to couples
Today, nix any plans for chocolate or roses and make an investment in your relationship instead.
Lorrie Peniston promises to provide the necessary tools at Love Lessons: Thriving Together, a seminar for couples she’s holding next month. Certificates are available for those who want to present something tangible.
Troubled relationships aren’t her target; anyone who “values their partner and their connection” should attend.
“Cards, candy and flowers are the popular presents we give to our significant other on Valentine’s Day,” the psychotherapist said.
“The impact of these gifts is often short-lived; the candies disappear and the flowers wither and die. This seminar is designed to help couples thrive, not just survive in relationships. Participants will learn how to optimise and grow the ‘good’ in relationships with communication and connection skills that strengthen your bond and increase intimacy.
“It’s a great opportunity for couples to think about their relationship differently and to think about giving each other a very unique gift for Valentine’s Day. Typically, it’s a Hallmark holiday, but this is really an opportunity to put money in your relationship bank.”
Mrs Peniston worked as a therapist in Bermuda for more than a decade before opening her own practice, Synergy, Ltd, in 2005. At times, she found her sessions with couples challenging.
“Working with couples can be very difficult and it wasn’t a source of professional satisfaction for me for the first part of my career,” she said. “There were times when I joked with myself and thought I should buy some boxing gloves just to see who wins.”
That changed in 2009 when she got a master’s degree in positive psychology, the scientific study of wellbeing. Next month’s seminar is based on her dissertation, The Flourishing Couple: A Programme to Find and Foster the Best in Your Relationship.
“When a couple comes into therapy and I ask how I can help, I often get a dirty laundry list of things that are wrong with the relationship and wrong with the partner,” she said.
Although such information is important, it’s equally necessary that couples address the positives in their relationship. However, when asked about those, most of the couples she saw would clam up.
“The energy in the room changes dramatically as couples begin to look at each other through a different lens,” Mrs Peniston said.
“This shift can provide hope for a couple that is often on the brink. The mainstay of traditional psychology is getting an individual or a couple back to normal. Suffering and ‘the bad’ might be relieved, but that doesn’t necessarily make the couple happy.
“Couples need to know how to capitalise on strengths, and this can often help them fix what is broken and build resilience in the relationship.”
The idea is to help “feed” relationships so that when problems arise, couples are able to work through them.
Mrs Peniston said: “I’m astounded at how many couples do not tend to relationships, don’t have fun, don’t savour successes and don’t use each other’s strengths. If we are modelling relationships that are thriving, then we’re teaching our children amazing skills for connection, for communication. So part of this seminar will be about how we celebrate one another. The research says that how we respond to a partner’s good news can either build the relationship, or bust it.
“This workshop is not couple’s therapy. People don’t have to be afraid about coming and having to reveal what their challenges are. I’m not at all expecting folks that sign up are perfect couples, because that doesn’t exist. This should appeal to people who want to take their relationship to a greater level. Inevitably, challenges are going to happen, but if you’re coming as a couple from a strong place, you will be that much more able to face them.”
• Love Lessons: Thriving Together will take place at 7pm at BHS on March 14. Tickets, $80 per couple, are available at bdatix.bm. For more information visit www.lorriepeniston.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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