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Family and Relationship Counselling

Marriage and Couples’ Counselling

Mission Bridge Psychological ServicesThough it may be difficult to recognize when you’re in the thick of relationship problems, a relationship crisis can be a gift that helps couples expose and address imbalances in the relationship.  When the crisis is used well, it leads to deeper trust and understanding and a more realistic and stronger partnership.  Sharing your life with a partner is a privilege and a responsibility, and enhances the creation of a deeply meaningful life.

A relationship crisis may take the form of a particular event such as an infidelity, or it may be more subtle, chronic and pervasive – showing up in disrespect for each other, hurt feelings and constant conflict. 

Individuals might be unaware of the emotional undercurrents that fuel their arguments over seemingly trivial things.  However, the extent to which a couple becomes gridlocked around a particular issue is usually indicative of strong underlying emotions that are not being discussed.  Instead, partners act defensively by projecting blame, criticizing, withdrawing or becoming angry.  It can be difficult to resolve these differences because of the emotional intensity of the issue and personal involvement of the partners.  A psychologist experienced in couple therapy can help couples extricate themselves from these often debilitating emotional gridlocks. 

You will know that you are emotionally gridlocked with your partner when it feels like you are unable to communicate or resolve problems.  Or, you may feel that you have become distant from one another, perhaps with one or the other of you being over-involved with the children, work or extended family.  While these are concerns that many couples experience, if they become a long-standing habit of relating within your relationship, it may be taking its toll on your individual well-being and/or the health of your relationship.  A psychologist experienced in couple therapy can offer guidance in taking your relationship in the direction you and your partner prefer rather than the direction that your unsatisfying habits of relating take you.

Stages of Relationship Therapy

  1. Assessment
  • Reviewing the past and identifying when the relationship began to deteriorate.
  • Learning about yourselves and each other: Myers Briggs Type Indicator, checklists, and sometimes boundary work.
  • Assessing the positives in yourself, your partner and the relationship.  What are the strengths that will help you to succeed?
  • Looking at communication patterns: how to deal with conflict, defensiveness or verbal abuse.
  • Problem solving and communicating constructively.
  1. Assignments
  • Reading information. 
  • Observing yourself and your partner.
  • Identifying behaviour patterns.
  1. Implementation
  • Developing positive relationship and communication strategies. 
  • Learning to repair after conflict.
  • Practicing staying focused on the problem to be solved, not in reacting defensively. 
  • Creating love, kindness and appreciation.
  1. Cleaning up unfinished business  
  • Practicing good honest and safe communication.
  • Learning to take responsibility for your own behaviour and choices in the past. 
  • Learning to understand and to forgive.
  1. Consolidating the new behaviour patterns
  • Re-establishing openness, safety, honesty, respect, trust and deepening love.

Therapy is not always easy or comfortable.  Taking the risk to get healthy and real is worth it.

Family Therapy

Mission Bridge Psychological Services - Family Therapy

Family therapy is a process wherein two or more members of a family tackle the issues that are affecting the group as a whole. Family therapy is not just for families with problems. Families can go into therapy even if they do not have issues. Family therapy can even help strong families create more open communication, and teach them to better nurture each other in ways that strengthen the family bond.

There are several benefits a family can enjoy when going to therapy, including:

  • Resolving family issues:
    Families, like couples, can get stuck in repetitive patterns.  Unresolved issues may keep coming up, creating conflict and defensive behaviour.  A therapist can help a family clarify past events to bring understanding and resolution, so that the family can move forward in a positive way.
  • Open communication:
    Families can struggle because they have not established healthy practices for communication, such as listening, turn taking, making sure everyone speaks up, and setting regular times for discussion.  A therapist can guide a family through the issues, and also help the family develop good communication skills for the benefit of everyone.
  • Individual issues
    An issue for one family member may affect everyone else.  One such example is a case where one of the parents is ill or depressed.  Family therapy can help everyone to have a voice so that the needs of all are met. The family can learn how to work cooperatively, rather than to be isolated from each other and suffer stress.  A second example is a case where one of the children may have ADHD.  It can be beneficial to have family discussions to better understand the disorder, and to learn how to help everyone work together to minimize the effects on the individual and the family.
  • Strategic discussion:
    A therapist can help a family deal with pending issues so that everyone is included and able to have a say.  Examples of such pending issues are a family move, or separating parents.  A therapist can help everyone understand the effects of change, and guide them to healthier adjustment, so that all family members feel included and supported.

Family therapy helps to ensure that each individual is heard, and that their needs are considered.  Stronger family bonds are created, trust is deepened, and overall relationships improve.


Parenting can be the most rewarding and joyful experience, but it can also be the most stressful job of your life.

Read more about how we can help with Parenting

Divorce & Separation

Mission Bridge Psychological Services Today, over 50% of couples will choose divorce as the solution to marital dissatisfaction. Despite its prevalence, few spouses are prepared for the emotional and physical impact of divorce. Divorce affects all family members at every generational level, producing a crisis for each individual within the family and the extended family.

It typically take couples and families one to three years to move through the process before a new balance is established. Divorce is usually very emotionally intense, involving an abundance of financial, physical and social stress. It is a challenge to create respectful, satisfying and fulfilling relationships among all family members, old, and possibly new in the instance of a blended family following divorce. A therapist can be very helpful through this transition.

All members of the family face different challenges as they move through the stages of separation, divorce and possibly remarriage. For example, in a family with young children, the parents need to develop a new relationship with their children in their roles as single parents. They also need to form an effective co-parenting team with each other. It is important to be aware of the children’s and parents’ changing emotional, social, financial and physical needs and to determine how these can best be met.

Divorce, although difficult and not a hoped-for outcome, can be adaptive if the process is thoughtful, slow-paced and respectful. A therapist can help couples and families get through these changes more smoothly, and help parents minimize the chaos for their children.

The best solution for children is to live in a stable family with both of their parents. When this is not possible, it is best for children to have two mature co-operative parents who can support them with love, security and predictability.


Mission Bridge Psychological ServicesStepfamilies are an increasingly common form of family unit. Nevertheless, myths and unrealistic expectations abound about stepfamilies. While most people remarry with a sense of hope and optimism about the future of their "blended" family, members of a stepfamily may at times feel:

  • overwhelmed
  • angry
  • resentful
  • isolated
  • helpless
  • a failure
  • lonely
  • insecure
  • confused
  • anxious
  • rejected
  • cheated

While these feelings are common, they may also be an indication that certain issues need to be addressed. If negative emotions persist for any family member, it is often useful to assess how well the stepfamily is doing in establishing a new family identity. There are a number of tasks that need to be accomplished in order to do this. Some of these include:

  • dealing with losses and changes
  • negotiating different developmental needs
  • establishing new traditions
  • developing a solid couple bond
  • forming new relationships
  • creating a "parent coalition"
  • accepting continual shifts in household composition
  • risking involvement despite little support from society

The partners of Mission Bridge Psychological Associates have many years of experience working with stepfamilies on these tasks. We can help you to appreciate the strengths and resources of your family and to develop strategies for removing obstacles to a satisfying and rewarding family life.

Psychological Services
Mission Bridge Psychological Services

The partners at Mission Bridge Psychological Associates provide a comprehensive range of psychological services to individuals, couples, adolescents, and families. Together, we bring over 90 years of experience to our clients. Our collaboration both within our partnership and with other community resources increases the depth, range, and quality of our services.

Make an Appointment

Call 403-228-5191
or e-mail Mission Bridge

www.missionbridge.com reception@missionbridge.com