Working Through Grief And Suffering

Suffering is universal and comes in different forms. It can be physical, emotional, psychological, or all together at one time. Grief is complex and unique in every case. It can alter one’s lifestyle, behavior, and personality as well as affect the people around him. One of my clients told me, “I was sixty-five years old when my husband died. What I am saying is that I had lived long enough to have suffered some awful pains, and done my share of grieving. But with my husband gone, I just could not seem to snap out of it.”

The prolonged grief in her resulted in depression. She became isolated and withdrew from all social functions. You might be one of those who have lost someone you loved or known someone who has lost somebody close to them, or you may be suffering because of a terminal sickness; or because of financial difficulties as a result of a job loss, a marital problem or a loved one suffering mental illness.

Grief and suffering are difficult to handle. How does one cope with them? How does one work through the difficult days, weeks, months, and possibly years? There is no right or wrong formula or a way to handle them. How one grieves depends on many factors. It depends on his or her personality and coping styles, his life experiences and faith, as well as the nature of the pain and suffering. The healing process is always gradual. It cannot be forced or hurried. Thus, there is no timetable for grieving. What one experiences is different but the process will take time. Therefore, it is important to be patient and to allow the process to unfold itself organically in its due time. It can be short for some, and lengthy for others.

The Five Stages Of Grief

Grief is not something one can just try to get over it needs to run its course. The loss of someone or the encounter with something tragic can be extremely hard and painful. A person can experience all kinds of unending and difficult feelings from pain and suffering. It is the normality of life. In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler Ross introduced in her book “On Death and Dying” what has become known as the “Five Stages of Grief.” They help us to understand what a person goes through during such times. The five stages of grief are based on her studies of the feelings of patients who were faced with a terminal illness. Many have generalized them to other types of negative effects from the changes and losses in life.

The first stage is denial where one rejects what has happened or is happening to him or her. The second stage is where anger creeps in to complicate the sadness or pain one is experiencing. The third stage is to bargain by making promises to God, to ourselves, or to others in the hope to be well again. If it does, one will fulfill their part of the bargain. The fourth stage is where depression sets in where a person experiences a sense of helplessness and even hopelessness. The fifth stage is where one begins to accept as he or she recognizes that this is it, and there is really nothing he or she can do to change the situation or circumstances.

Grieving or suffering is unique and personal to each individual person. The five stages do not necessarily take place chronologically, nor does everyone goes through the same stages. In fact, some people resolve it without going through any of these stages while others go through every single stage with its full implications. While it can be a roller coaster ride as it can become rough, bumpy, and lengthy for some. No matter how many or what stages one goes through, it usually becomes less intense and shorter as time passes. Thus, time is needed to iron out the pain of suffering.

  1. Acceptance – No matter what causes grief or suffering like the death of a loved one, physical illness, unemployment, fear, or uncertainty of the future, do not deny it but accept it.
  2. Acknowledgment – Do not try to suppress or bury any pain or grief. But acknowledge them as the more you try to avoid the feelings of sadness, the longer the grieving process will be prolonged. Any unresolved grief can lead to complications such as depression, anger, anxiety, and other health problems.
  3. Release and Rest – Any feelings of loss and helplessness that sweep over us, do not try to hold back the tears. Tears are therapeutic. They release the tension of sadness and grief from our hearts which can be hard to express with words. Tears also exhaust the body and force us to rest as the pain of suffering can prevent a hurting person from doing so.
  4. Express – Talk to a trusted friend or a relative who will listen to you. Share with them your pains and burdens. Do not harbor them in your hearts or try to carry the load yourself. You can also use art to express your feelings. You can also write a letter to the deceased to say the things you never got the chance to speak. Make a scrapbook or photo album celebrating the person’s life. Have a picnic at the grave site with surviving family members.
  5. Journal – Write down your feelings and pains and the things that are affecting your life. Writing your thoughts and feelings on paper will help to clarify and sort through your feeling. Sometimes you can even find the answers or way out for yourself through writing.
  6. Stay Active – Find something to do especially when you are overwhelmed by sadness or negative thoughts and feelings. Go for a walk, clean the house, run errands, visit a friend, sing, or paint. Do something you enjoy and bring fulfillment to yourself or to others.
  7. Stay Healthy – The mind, soul, and spirit are connected. Therefore, when you are feeling depressed, you will neglect your physical, and emotional needs. Thus, you must take care of your physical needs. Combat stress and fatigue by getting enough sleep, eating well, and doing exercises. Do not use substances to numb the pain or to try and change your moods.
  8. Watch for triggers” of grief – Birthdays, anniversaries, or special holidays can trigger memories and feelings of sadness. This is normal but be prepared for how it can affect you. Be kind and patient to yourself and to others at such times.
  9. Faith – If you have faith, put it in the divine being you believe in. Feelings of hopelessness can consume all your energy in a destructive way. Faith will enable you to embrace pain positively together with the right perspective, it will be easier to make any necessary changes in your life and manage the pain of suffering better.
  10. Support – Good friends or support groups can be helpful to us. Communicate and express clearly what and how you like others to help and support you during the darkest hours.

    If you have been impacted by any grief and loss, please do not hesitate to call SACAC as we have a group of professional therapists and psychologists who can help you.

    Written By:
    Joyce Ng
    Clinical Psychologist
    Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
    SACAC Counselling

Inner Child Hypnosis Work

Deep inside of us still lives the child we once were, our ‘inner child’.
Taking the decision to explore this part of ourselves and connect with the little one we once were, takes us on a journey to the core of our being. We can then embrace, bolster and heal that child. Many adults are oblivious that, deep within themselves, such a delicate and sensitive, often wounded part of who they were has deeply influenced their path forward.
Of paramount importance is to understand that this part of us not only holds our aptitude for innocence, wonder, joy, sensitivity and playfulness but often holds childhood hurts, traumas, fears and anger as well.
The view of several current psychological approaches holds that true adulthood integrates, acknowledges and takes responsibility for our own inner child. Instead of denying, neglecting, abandoning or rejecting this part of ourselves, we embrace it, listen to it, nurture it, treat it with love and ultimately heal it.
Our wounded child will respond to genuineness and integrity to our connection. Much beyond our inner child, we may also touch on the suffering of several generations. Our mother or our father may have suffered throughout their lives and had no awareness and possibility to look after the wounded child in themselves. It is liberating and incredibly powerful to be aware that when we embrace the little child within us, we are also healing wounded children of past generations, sometimes correcting ancestral patterns of suffering. If we can heal our wounded child, we will liberate ourselves but also help to liberate whoever has hurt us. Inner Child hypnotherapy can create positive changes in the adult who seeks greater self-respect, self-confidence, self-worth and self-acceptance. It can help overcome self-sabotaging behavior learnt to cope with the abuse and dysfunction in the family we grew up in. To achieve these goals requires the client’s full cooperation. One must really want to heal and make the changes; one must be open to believing that healing is possible and that positive changes can be made; and you must be willing to use the tools and techniques provided. Part of the therapeutic process involves conscious cognitive dialogue. Clients are asked questions to gain an understanding of their childhood and family of origin, and to identify the specific incidents that harmed them. It will be explored how they tried to cope and what self-sabotaging behavior developed which creates road blocks for them as adults. To develop a positive and trusting relationship with the client, the first one or two hypnotic sessions are spent creating a peaceful, calm state in which rapport is established and the client is helped to let go of fear, anxiety, and worry about the process. Techniques that deepen the hypnotic state and promote relaxation, develop self-esteem, and improve self-confidence are used. During the hypnotherapy sessions a variety of hypnotic suggestions are presented, as well as visualizations, and other techniques to access and relate to the client’s inner child, and change limiting beliefs and negative emotions with positive feelings, attitudes, and empowering beliefs. Positive coping strategies that target their goals are provided to the subconscious mind, promoting self-love in place of self-sabotage. Hypnotherapy and inner child work has a powerful impact on people’s lives and the inner child work reconnects us with this part of ourselves longing to be heard, held and healed. It is a profoundly rewarding work that enables us, in a nurturing and loving way, to come back home and to heal our fragmented self.


(588 w)

Written By:
Laura Spalvieri
Counsellor & Psychotherapist
SACAC Counselling

Doing what matters in times of stress

In this blogpost I wanted to highlight an important programme that is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, for people who are affected by adversity and help deal better with stress. It is a real world application of how psychotherapy can improve the lives of people around the world and make it a better place.

In 2021, the World Health Organisation (WHO) updated Self Help Plus (SH+), an initiative to provide mental health support to people facing adversity in regions with less resources. The programme is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which is  originated Dr. Stephen Hayes. 

The content was created by Dr Russ Harris et al. for the WHO. They came up with a Comic book that can be used around the world by people with various levels of education. The programme consists of 5 sessions and can give facilitated by person with little mental healthcare training, like a nurse. It is conducted over 5 weeks and uses recording to guide the sessions.It is considered a low intensity intervention. 

ACT is pronounced as a verb to emphasise the need for committed action in this model. ACT focusses on encreasing psychological flexibility. This is done by opening up to our present moment awareness and our internal experiences ( our thoughts and emotions), while acting in alignment with our values and moving towards our aspirations. Simply put, Opening up, Being Present and Committed Engagement. The programme has been implemented in regions affected by adversity. 

Recently, a study in Northern Uganda of female Sudanese refugees’ mental health, has been conducted to see if the programme improves psychological flexibility. The study was published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology by Daniel P. Lakin and a team of researchers. As you can image, conflict-affected areas experience increased level of psychological distress and mental health disorders, which was confirmed among others by Steel et al., 2009. 

The researchers have concluded that psychological flexibility did improve among the Sudanese female refugees, despite it being a low-intensity intervention. The outcome the SH+ study underscores the effectiveness of the ACT based programme. And that psychological flexibility can be improved even for low-resourced regions around the world. 

The programme is flexible enough to be adapted to the various regions’ needs and still maintain the key components that make ACT such an effective therapy. It provides a roadmap to lessen the impact of adversity across the globe and make this world a more peaceful and harmonious place.

It also indicates that dealing more effectively with stress can be learned in brief therapy. This is a great message for anyone struggling with feelings of stress, low mood and feeling overwhelmed. So if anyone you know is struggling with any of those feelings, do let them know that simple and easy to learn skills can go a long in dealing with life’s challenges.


Lakin et al., 2023: blob:

Steel, 2009:

Written by:
Allard Mueller
Counsellor and Psychotherapist
SACAC Counselling

Why Therapy?

Some people still believe that therapy is for “crazy ones”, for those that are weak or that is a luxury. Most of my clients believe that I have a magical pill that in a few sessions it will cure them or completely treat their issue. But what exactly is therapy for and what does a therapist do?

To answer that question, I will recall what a Brazilian professor of mine always emphasized: the importance of the culture in one’s mental health development. If you go to any library, you might find books about “how to be truly happy”, “learning how to leave your anxiety behind”, “the 3 steps to happiness” etc. Culture in general has this bias that conditions people to be believe that suffering is not good, so we try multiples ways of getting rid of these negative feelings. Some people, believing on that and trying to accomplish this impossible mission, enter my therapy room.

For those, I have to deliver the unfortunate bad news that therapy is not about magic powers and that it will never eliminate suffering, as it is an inherit condition to humans. What we therapists can do is to help our client to deal with their difficulties and challenges in a better way. Pain, sadness, anxiety, fear, and all other emotional negative aspects to life will always be there, but therapy will support the patient to deal with their daily challenges in a different and better way, helping their quality of life to improve even in the presence of all those negative feelings.

Written By:
Andrea Fernandes Thomaz
Counsellor & Psychotherapist

SACAC Counselling

Walking in Nature: Steps to Improving Your Mental Health

I remember the last time I stepped into a forest. What a treat for my senses. My eyes were refreshingly greeted by the fall colours of green, red, and orange hues. The pine scent that filled the air allowed me to take deeper breaths than I had in weeks outside of nature. My body felt fully alive, and I felt an inner calm and peace that I had not experienced in weeks. The sound of the leaves rustling in the gentle breeze beckoned me to ground my feet into the soft earth underneath and each step I took tempted me to take another. This experience of being immersed in nature was healing and connected me to myself and the world around me. 

The idea of connecting with nature and immersing oneself in the forest is not a novel idea. Let’s take a walk back in time. In Japan, the term shinrin-yoku was coined in the ’80s to describe the concept of ‘forest bathing’. In the history of Native American culture, nature is integral to human living. Through decades of industrialization and urbanization, the disconnect between humans and nature has grown and in highly urbanized countries and cities like Singapore, this delicate balance with nature has been constantly challenged. With the high usage of technology, screen time has permeated and persisted in much of our daily lives. There is growing research documenting the benefits and adverse effects of screentime on mental health, and, the reality is that technology and screentime are here to stay. 

Stepping out into nature may not seem instinctive, but much can be gained through spending some time in nature. Increased exposure to nature may enrich one’s cognition, bringing about benefits such as enhanced attention, focus, and working memory. Other benefits that nature brings include boosting one’s mood and the reduction in mental distress, stress, and psychological conditions. As we feel better in our bodies, the probability that we offer kindness to others is increased, hence strengthening our interpersonal relationships. 

The great news is that while we may not have easy access to a forest, we could start with tiny steps and build them up step-by-step. The greater the exposure to nature, the greater the benefits gained. Listening to sounds of nature such as the light fall of rain, thunderstorms, or a stream of water could lighten your heart. If you have a little garden, taking small steps while tending to your plants once a day may enliven your spirits. To step up your dose of nature, brisk walking for about 2.4 hours in nature could lower the risk of depression by 25 percent. 

As Malik el Halabi says, “A walk in nature walks the soul back home.” Happy Nature Walking.


Fitzgerald, S. (2023). The secret to mindful travel? A walk in the woods. National Geographic.

Pearce, M., et al. (2022). Association between physical activity and risk of depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Psychiatry, 79(6), 550–559.

Weir, K. (2020). Nurtured by nature. American Psychological Association, 51(3), 50.

Written By:
Isabelle Ong, Ph.D., LCMHCA, NCC (USA)
Clinical Mental Health Counselor & Psychotherapist
SACAC Counselling

Occupational Therapy and Adult Mental Health

In Singapore there is often the perception that Occupational Therapy is for children who are facing developmental challenges or as part of hospital-based rehabilitation for the elderly. It can certainly play an important role in these areas, but it is so much more. Occupational Therapy as a profession actually has its roots in mental health, it developed in the UK from enabling soldiers to return to meaningful life after injuries and trauma from World War 1. It then expanded to cover all areas of physical and mental health. In fact, any area where our function is affected could be improved by working with an Occupational Therapist.

We look holistically at function – what people do for work, leisure and productivity (e.g. activities of daily living, self-care, household tasks) and how the challenges they are facing affect this. The focus of Occupational Therapy in any clinical area is to assist clients to participate in daily living as independently as possible.

So, what does this look like within mental health? Here are SACAC we are looking at:

  • How low mood can impact work, leisure and home life and strategies to move forward in these areas
  • How activity can be used to improve motivation and confidence to do what is important to you in life
  • How workplace challenges and stress can be managed
  • How responsibilities like caring for a loved one impact wellbeing and mental health
  • How stress or anxiety may impact how you feel and what you do day to day
  • How activity can be utilized as a coping mechanism

    For every client there is an assessment process where we explore a wide range of holistic factors to gain a clear understanding of the challenges they are facing and what is meaningful for them.
    Factors considered include:
  1. Values, beliefs, spirituality, mental function, sensory function
  2. Physical skills (motor processing)
  3. Social interaction skills
  4. The environment or context you are functioning in
  5. Habits, routines and roles
  6. Barriers to participation in desired activities


    Perryman-Fox M, Cox DL, 2020. Occupational Therapy in the United Kingdom: Past, Present and Future. Annals of International Occupational Therapy, Vol 3, No 2.

    Written by:
    Jennie Bhangu
    Occupational Therapist
    SACAC Counselling

Often, children who have been neglected emotionally as children make these 6
lifelong mistakes

The experiences gained in one’s childhood can have a tremendous impact on one’s development and behavior later in life. In particular childhood emotional neglect can lead to a variety of potential emotional issues later in life. 

Experiencing childhood emotional neglect has a tendency to lead children to feel as if their emotions do not matter. Which may not be communicated directly, but instead can occur as a result of one’s emotional state being neglected by parental figures. Which deprives children of the necessary attention and affection they need during their development. This then manifests into an attitude of believing that one’s feelings are unimportant, which is a direct falsehood. Feelings are a crucial part of the human experience, acting as both a means of motivation and protection. Therefore, the belief that they don’t matter can have various negative impacts on a person. 

Such as labeling oneself as flawed, the absence of an emotionally charged life can lead to feelings of being isolated. In which one may feel that they lack the passion or any other quality that others around them possess. Which in reality is not true, rather it is a lack of emotional development that is hindering those qualities. Alternatively, another impact could be developing feelings of excessive responsibility for others. Whereby, one feels compelled to overly fixate on the feelings of others, in turn forgetting to focus on one’s own feelings. By choosing to place a greater focus on one’s own feelings instead, it can lead to a greater sense of self and confidence. Furthermore, viewing one’s emotions as insignificant can also potentially lead to the belief that you have to do everything by yourself. Which can result in a toxic mindset, whereby one may decline to share their feelings and instead may think that it is a sign of weakness to share their feelings. Which may only further feelings of isolation. Therefore, it is crucial to acknowledge one’s emotions and the emotional needs that may come with them. Additionally, the mentality of one’s feeling being a burden can lead to the assumption that others must therefore also view those feelings as burdensome. However, this assumption is incorrect, being able to be emotionally vulnerable with others is a key part of forming strong interpersonal relationships. In this case one might fear a return to the emotionally neglectful environment of one’s childhood, however this fear is likely to only be a fallacy and by overcoming it and embracing emotions can lead to the formation of new relationships that can aid in overcoming those feelings of isolation.  Finally, being out of touch with your emotions can lead to an attitude of emotional complacency. Whereby you might be afraid to speak your mind out of fear of emotional rejection, and will therefore conform to other’s desires while not making your own needs clear. This can also lead to one becoming out of touch with hobbies, friends, and family. Choosing to decline potential opportunities and leaving potential disputes unresolved, allowing them to fester. Thus it is crucial to understand and recognize all of these potential impacts, and work to rectify it through understanding its roots and effects on present behavior.


Kumari V. Emotional abuse and neglect: time to focus on prevention and
mental health consequences. Br J Psychiatry. 2020 Nov;217(5):597-599.

Dunn EC, Nishimi K, Gomez SH, Powers A, Bradley B. Developmental timing of trauma exposure and emotion dysregulation in adulthood: are there sensitive periods when trauma is most harmful? J Affect Disord. (2018) 227:869–77. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2017.10.045

Haynes E, Crouch E, Probst J, Radcliff E, Bennett K, Glover S. Exploring the association between a parent’s exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and outcomes of depression and anxiety among their children. Child Youth Serv Rev. (2020) 113:105013. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2020.105013

Kumari V. Emotional abuse and neglect: time to focus on prevention and mental health consequences. Brit J Psychiatry. (2020) 217:1–3. doi: 10.1192/bjp.2020.154

Written by:
Leah Selakovic
SACAC Counselling

Parent and Child Connection Time- Why is it so important?

Holding down a day job and meeting the demands of everyday life can make it seem almost impossible to develop a quality connection with your children. However, it is something that I hear myself bringing up often when I meet with parents.

It is usually relatively easy to read the signs and figure out when your child’s physical needs need to be met. Physical needs are signs such as your child showing you that they are hungry, need the bathroom or tired. However, it can be difficult to see the emotional signs that a child displays. Did you know that from the moment a child is born, a child give us signs about their emotional state.

These signs vary from child to child and is dependent on their age but things such as bringing you toys/random objects, talking to you and joining you in your personal space can all be indicators that your child would like to connect on an emotional level. 

Tips for quality connection time

·      Set aside daily time with your child. Try to do this face to face. If you are away and this is not possible, establish a routine for a video or phone call, leave a note in their lunchbox or a note by their bed

·      Create a special ‘thing’ to do with your child each day where you are on their level and allow the child the independence whilst around you. This can look like allowing the child to pick their bedtime story

·      Tell your child that you love them and how important they are to you daily

·      Try to be with your child during mealtimes. If you are not able to eat the entire meal with your child due to the timing challenges, sit and eat a healthy snack or part of the meal with them and use this time for casual and relaxed chat

·      Reinforce positive behaviour that you see happening. This helps create a sense of achievement and appreciation

·      Organise an activity of your child’s choice. Put this in your calendar and follow through with it. Importantly, put your phone away so that the two of you have no distractions!

·      Play with your child whenever you can. This can be during bath time, school drop off/ pick up- every opportunity is great

It is the quality of connection time that is really what is important.

Written by:
Renee Butler
SACAC Counselling

Is it good to be self-actualized?

There are many “goals” for counseling or psychotherapy. I would like to talk about one of the common yet highly ambiguous goal called self-actualization. Self-actualization has a very rosy connotation but on the contrary, I learned many downsides of this phenomenon during my training. According to Abraham Maslow (1962a), self- actualization involves getting out of enculturation which often is a comfort zone for many people. For Carl Jung (2017), individuation (other way to call self-actualization) includes inevitable process to confront one’s “shadow” for the “Self” become more whole.

When a person becomes more unique, open, independent, and secure, it naturally perturbs the established equilibrium in certain interpersonal or group dynamics. Some people might welcome it while others might not. Some could be refraining from individuation because her/his shadow or unconscious domain is overwhelmingly uncanny, and the stability of consciousness or ego could be greatly threatened in the process of such integration.

Therefore, the price to pay for one’s self-actualization can be quite substantial. If that is the case, why do we still strive for it? What is the driving force behind one’s motivation to self-actualize?

According to classic literature, one answer is because of “peak-experience”. Peak-experience is defined as “mystic experiences, moments of great awe, moments of the most intense happiness or even rapture, ecstasy or bliss (because the word happiness can be too weak to describe this experience)” (Maslow, 1962b, p. 9). According to many accounts of the informants, this rare experience made them perceive the world in a whole new way (Wuthnow, 1978). As the name implies, it is really the “peak” of one’s life and the experience is ultimately rewarding. Maslow observed that self-actualized individuals seem to have more peak-experience compared to the others. Although it is highly abstract and theoretical, below are how Maslow (Maslow, 1962a) attempted to describe the essence of peak-experience.

  1. Object is seen as a whole and is seen detached from the usefulness of the subject
  2. Full attention and complete absorption to the object
  3. The object is seen as it is in its pure form
  4. Richer perception
  5. Ego-transcending, self-forgetful
  6. Feeling that life is worthwhile
  7. Disorientation in time and space
  8. Subject perceives peak-experience as an absolute good
  9. Sense of absolute rather than relative
  10. Passive and receptive experience
  11. Sense of wonder, awe, humility before the experience
  12. One object seems to represent whole world
  13. Co-existence of abstract and concrete
  14. Fusion of dichotomies
  15. Love and acceptance of the world and of the person
  16. Perceiving uniqueness in everything
  17. Loss of fear, anxiety, inhibition, defense, and control

    Once a person goes through peak-experience, the painful journey of self-actualization is unconditionally rewarded. I speculate that this could be one of the reasons why our psyche is always aspiring to grow.


Jung, C. G. (2017). Mandala symbolism:(From Vol. 9i collected works) (Vol. 42).
Princeton University Press.
Maslow, A. H. (1962a). Toward a psychology of being (750459). Van Nostrand.
Maslow, A. H. (1962b). Lessons from the Peak-Experiences. Journal of Humanistic
Psychology, 2(1), 9–18.
Wuthnow, R. (1978). Peak Experiences: Some Empirical Tests. Journal of Humanistic
Psychology, 18(3), 59–75.

Written by:
Takashi Obana, PhD
Clinical Psychologist
SACAC Counselling

Critical periods for an intimate relationship in relation to family systems changing

There are at least three phases that are seen as critical periods for an intimate relationship:

  • Having young children between the ages of 0-6 years old.
  • Having children in puberty.
  • Having children leaving the house.

Having said this, other life events or changes, of course will also be challenging times and critical phases for intimate relationships. However in this blog I will partly be focusing on the above phases. 

These phases are seen as years that are more challenging for a relationship, because there are changes on every fundamental theme in your life. 

Everyone and everything in the family system is changing:

  • Roles become different for yourself, your partner, the other family members (grandparents etc).
  • New balances in tasks
  • New work-life balances
  • Development of children 
  • Dynamics changing
  • Body transformations
  • Intimacy changes

What do we need in order to maintain a healthy relationship and rediscover each other in this vulnerable phase of life?

First of all; Reflect on yourself: intentionally making time to think about who you are, who you have become, what has contributed to that development, what you like about yourself, what you would like to develop more or less of, what triggers me, what past experiences can it be linked to in my youth. See the following quote: 

My primary relationship is with myself; all others are mirrors of it. As I learn to love myself, I automatically receive the love and appreciation that I desire from others. If I am committed to myself and to living my truth, I will attract others with equal commitment. My willingness to be intimate with my own deep feelings creates the space for intimacy with another. As I learn to love myself, I receive the love I desire from others. — Shakti Gawain

Second; communicate about each other’s underlying feelings and needs in a safe and respectful manner. This requires work around emotion awareness and regulation (being aware and in touch with your own underlying emotions and able to regulate your emotion). Realizing this is not about right or wrong/ partners fault or my fault. But this is about understanding and listening to each other’s needs and finding ways to meet each other’s needs. We can’t always know each other’s needs if the other person doesn’t communicate. Realizing that we will try to develop and meet each other’s needs, but also being realistic and understanding that 1 individual can’t always 100% fulfill some needs. Realizing that every relationship needs work to stay connected (reflections, small gestures, making time, effort, communication about emotions and needs). 

My colleague wrote a interesting blog related to communication in relationships “Communication builds intimacy in your relationship” – Joyce Ng (see our website:

Written By:
Flo Westendorp
Clinical Psychologist
SACAC Counselling