Applying The Relationship Grid™ in Couples Therapy

By: Clare Mézes, MSc, RP, RMFT, RST, RLT 
Cheryl Richardson, author, writes, “If you are tired of the same old dance, get ready to learn a few new steps–real steps–the ones that will make a difference in your life and the lives of those you love.” Effective tools and skills to help couples achieve healthy and intimate relationships, using Relational Life Therapy™, are described in The New Rules of Marriage: What You Need to Make Love Work, (Terry Real, 2007).  Relational Life Therapy is an approach to couples therapy that includes taking sides, focusing on grandiosity and shame, finding leverage so that clients listen to information about how they impact one another, naming the difficult truth in clients’ lives, and judiciously sharing some of our own truth as therapists as a way of being a real person.
Real developed a diagnostic tool, called The Relationship Grid™ (Grid) (Diagram 1).
relationshipgrid
The Grid is most helpful when assessing a couple’s dynamic at the worst of times.  It gets to the root of the each partner’s worst behaviours, and helps pinpoint what changes need to be made to shift to a healthy, more moderate relationship.  It is a visual tool, describing how the couple interacts with one another, and how their dynamics work for and against them.  The Grid is prescriptive in showing the couple how to make changes in their interactions, in order to connect in a more meaningful way.
The Grid is basically a cross, divided into four quadrants.  Boundaries are the horizontal axis, self-esteem is the vertical axis, and health is in the middle.  A person can be boundaryless or walled off, one up (grandiose) or one down (shame-filled).  When put together, the four quadrants are: one up and boundaryless, one down and boundaryless, one up and walled off, and one down and walled off.  If a person is on the boundaryless side, then the person is a love addict or love dependant.  If a person is primarily behind walls, then the person is love avoidant.
Here are some questions a therapist might ask when assessing whether someone is love dependant or love avoidant:
“Is he/she one-up, one-down, or centered?”
“Does he/she feel deflated and shame-filled, or inflated and grandiose?”
 
“How is his/her containing boundary?
“Is he/she uncontained, letting too much out, or walled off, letting nothing out?”
“How is his/her protective boundary?
“Is he/she too porous, or not open enough?”
The attached Grid uses adjectives in each of the four quadrants to describe behaviours used at the worst of times. In couples’ therapy, partners can learn to place themselves, and each other, in the appropriate position.  They will then see what they need to do to come to the centre and be more moderate in relationship to one another.
As an example, if one partner is in a shame state, he/she must bring themself up into health.  If the other partner is being grandiose, he/she must breath themself down into health.  If one partner is boundaryless, he/she needs to pause, and reset their boundary.  If the other partner is walled off, he/she needs to pause and get back into engagement.  These skills are not difficult, but require practice.
When each partner is in a place closer to health, then it becomes easier to understand family of origin dynamics, resolve conflicts, grieve past issues, enhance sexual connection, become more emotionally intimate and learn effective communication skills.
Clare Mézes has a private practice in North York, Toronto and Thornhill, ON.   She is a Registered Psychotherapist, Registered Marriage and Family Therapist, a Clinical Fellow with OAMFT/AAMFT, a Registered Sex Therapist and Certified Relational Life Therapist. She has an uncanny ability to get to the heart of issues giving individuals and couples the tools they need to optimize the full potential of their relationships.

Are We Doing Enough to Stay Healthy? Focus on Vitamin D

vitamine-dBy Paul Davis:
 
Are we doing enough to stay healthy? It’s a good question to ask ourselves every now and again. However, it’s kind of a difficult and open-ended question to answer, isn’t it? From the media we get a lot of sound bites about eating healthy, being active, preventing disease. There’s a lot of hype about new diets, tricks and bio-hacks for losing weight and staying young and healthy. There is a lot of debate about what constitutes a healthy diet and lifestyle. A lot of people are thinking ‘If everything is bad for me, then why bother? On the other hand, a lot of people are getting their health information from very biased and inaccurate sources. So…what is a common sense approach?
In my previous articles I explored the diet and lifestyle factors that support healthy aging in
general (Aug 2015) and more specifically for the prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease (Nov
2015). The take home message was that whatever helps support Healthy Aging, also helps
with the prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease. With some specific variations, the same can be
said of most other degenerative diseases; including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes,
osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. In this article I will explore what evidence exists for the use of
specific natural health products to supplement your healthy diet and lifestyle.
Of course, the base of a healthy lifestyle should be a micronutrient-rich, non-processed diet
with a high proportion of plant-based foods. Eating a diet composed on mostly unhealthy food
and taking supplements to compensate will only yield poor results, at best. Health Canada
recommends eating 7-8 servings of vegetables and fruits per day for teens and adults. Even
conscientious people usually fall below this target! If you want a food-based approach to
maintaining and improving your health, then definitely keep working on the vegetable and fruit
intake! And, as I’ve stated in my previous articles, have a wide variety of vegetables and fruits
and select high-quality, organically-grown produce when possible.
But what else can be done to upgrade our nutrition? The following is a short list of things to
consider: Vitamin D, Vitamin K2, Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Probiotics. As supplements, these
are all very popular at the moment. At low dosages they pose little or no risk of harm. At high
dosages they should be recommended or prescribed by a health care practitioner who has an
in-depth knowledge of nutrition and nutraceuticals as well as your personal health needs. In
this article I will explore and explain some important facts about Vitamin D.
Vitamin D ‘the sunshine vitamin’ is produced in our bodies when our skin is exposed to
sunlight. However, since we live in Canada and have a significantly long winter, most
Canadians will need a supplemented source of Vitamin D during the winter months. For those
Canadians who spend most of their time indoors, they will likely need to supplement during
the summer as well. In other words, our personal requirements from supplementation will
vary.
If you live in the southern United States, your body can produce Vitamin D most of the year. If
you live in most parts of Canada, you can’t produce much, or will produce none at all, through
the months of November to March. If you have a darker skin colour, Fitzpatrick Skin Types 5
and 6, you will need more sun exposure to produce the same amount of Vitamin D as a
person of lighter skin colour. If you have very light skin colour, eg.,Fitzpatrick Skin Types 1
and 2, you may be putting yourself at risk for skin cancer if you are spending time in the sun
just to get your Vitamin D level up.
Vitamin D is necessary for proper bone health, immune regulation, glucose regulation, neuroprotection,
mood regulation, cell growth rate and differentiation, blood pressure regulation and
many other important functions. In general, 400 to 1000 IU/day is recommended as sufficient
and safe for adults, but this intake level may not provide optimal Vitamin D for all individuals.
For example, Osteoporosis Canada recommends an intake of 800 to 2000 IU/day for men
and women 50 years of age and older.
I see a lot patients who, when tested, have low levels of Vitamin D. Some of them were
supplementing with Vitamin D and were still deficient. Because of all of it’s health benefits and
the fact that some people seem to need more intake to achieve optimal blood levels, I believe
that it is very important to test your level of Vitamin D with a blood test. Even though in most
cases you will need to pay out of pocket to have your Vitamin D level checked, I still think it’s
worth it to know what your current level is. In general this will cost around $30.00. If your level
is low, then your health care provider will likely recommend taking a supplement. A follow up
test at about 3 or 4 months will let you know if your blood level of Vitamin D has increased
into the normal range or not. At that point, you and your health care provider can decide on a
longer term intake per day.
This is referred to a test-treat-test approach and is the best way to ensure that a normal blood
level of Vitamin D has been reached. After this, testing once a year will tell you if your levels
are staying in normal range or not. You can test at any time, or either in winter (February to
March) or summer (July to August) to assess whether you are achieving a steady state of
adequate Vitamin D throughout the year.
There are 2 types of Vitamin D; D2 and D3. As I’ve stated above, our bodies make Vitamin D3
from sunshine. Other sources of D3 are fatty fish, egg yolks, beef and other livers, and cod
liver oil. Supplemental D3 is usually extracted from the lanolin found in sheep wool. It can be
made from true vegan sources as well; eg., from lichen for example. Small amounts of D2
occur naturally in mushrooms. However, most available D2 is synthesized from the irradiation
of mushrooms, yeast or plants. It is then added to supplement processed foods such as
cereals, milk (though some brands use D3), orange juice and is the main form that occurs in
prescriptions for Vitamin D.
D2 is less bio-active than D3. For example, it takes about twice as much D2 to increase a 25-
OH D3, the main form of Vitamin D in the blood. Advocates of D2 supplementation respond
by saying that taking a bit more will take care of any difference in activity level. However, the
nutritional effects of D2 in the body are also different in other ways that are significant. A
recent Cochrane Review of 50 randomized controlled trials including 94,000 subjects showed
mortality rates were lower for those that used D3 long term and higher for those that used D2
long term. There is a strong trend away from supplemental use of D2 in preference for D3.
Finally, just a brief note about Vitamin K2. Like Vitamin D it is a fat-soluble vitamin. Many
nutrition experts now recommend taking Vitamin K2 along with Vitamin D because they work
together. I’ll be writing more about this in my next article.
Hope you found this article interesting and informative! Are you doing enough? Are there

 

some areas in your diet and lifestyle you’d like to work on? Would you like to do more?
Paul Davis BSc ND has practiced Naturopathic Medicine with a keen interest in nutrition for 26 years. Currently he has a private practice at TalkTouchMove and teaches at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.
Contact Info:
P: 416 761 9722
E: paul.davis@talktouchmove.ca

What’s Up with Progesterone?

Dr. Kim Callaghan, ND
What’s Up With Progesterone?
 
I’m terribly interested in getting the details right about progesterone lately as ND’s have been
granted prescribing rights for natural hormones. The list includes progesterone, estrogen, and
thyroid.
So, now I’ve got another tool to help women balance hormones and feel well at all stages of
hormonal life.
Progesterone is a biggie in my books. It’s important for “female stuff”. Here is a list (it’s not
complete – there are more – these are my favourites) where increasing / balancing progesterone
changes women’s health:
• improves fertility
• eases menstrual cramps
• regulates irregular periods
• decreases heavy menstrual bleeding
• improves fibrocystic breasts
• improves endometriosis
• improves ovarian cysts
• improves symptoms of PMS
• improves symptoms of puberty
• improves symptoms of menopause – hot flashes, depressive symptoms, anxious symptoms,
and many many more
Impressive, I think. But… there’s more! Hormones work as messengers in the body. So an
organ, in this case the ovaries or the adrenal glands, secretes progesterone and it binds onto a
receptor on a different cell. When the receptor is filled, the cell is turned on to carry out a
specific function.
Researchers have found progesterone receptors on all kinds of tissues in the body. The
intestines have progesterone receptors as does the pancreas, the brain, parts of the immune
system, and possibly the heart. So cool.
So this information suggests that progesterone has effects throughout the body. This research
has accelerated in the last 10 years which is tremendously exciting for me, as a naturopathic
doctor. For years I’ve been noticing that improving women’s hormonal picture improves her
whole self.
Here is a list of functions related to progesterone that researchers are currently
 
investigating:
• protection against oxidative stress
• protection against pancreatic tumors
• anti-inflammatory action
• constipation
• IBS
• depression
• anxiety
(progesterone works as a neurotransmitter(chemical messenger) in the brain!)
• neuroprotective in Parkinson’s disease and MS
• cardioprotective
• diuretic properties
• controls acne
• plays a role in migraine headaches – affects vasoconstriction
• aids in sleep
• chronic pain management
• modulates the immune system
• improves benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH)
• moderates blood sugar control
How’s that for a list? Fantastic!
So let’s talk about, for example, a woman who has terribly painful periods, anxiety, trouble
sleeping, and constipation. Improving progesterone has the anticipated effect of helping the
painful periods because it’s a female hormone. BUT! The anxiety, insomnia, constipation all
improve too. The progesterone works directly on those systems independent of any
reproductive effects. Super.
Progesterone can be low for a number of reasons – genetic susceptibility, low nutrient
absorption of the required building blocks, ovarian dysfunction, peri-menopause. Also
environmental toxins that mess up our hormones and stress.
In practice I use marvelous herbs that help the body to make more progesterone thereby
creating a balance with hormones. I also use excellent supplements to provide nutritional
building blocks to improve progesterone levels. And now with our new regulation, I can
prescribe natural progesterone if warranted.

 

Progesterone. Now you know why it’s so exciting!

The Gift of Compassion

The Gift of Compassion

“What is this Karma!” a client cried out last week. “I have suffered enough, Life is supposed to get better. It should be onto the good stuff by now, what is this karma?“  How do you have compassion for yourself when you are angry, frustrated, and nothing is going right?

When our world seems to be falling apart and uncomfortable, it is hard to recognize or accept that this is when we are growing and changing. The ever-expanding universe will send you opportunities to practice (consciously or unconsciously) what ever you would like/need to work on in this lifetime.

Sometimes it takes crumbling and chaos to crack us out of where we are. It was uncanny how my client’s circumstances were a reflection of my own. I could relate to her wail. I had tremendous compassion for her. I listened, I paid attention to her, and knew that I was getting a lesson. I also knew that the healing medicine was in our joint inner wisdom, and compassion was key.

My feeling for my client’s railing against her sense of the fate and the direction her life was taking led me to  ask if she had any compassion for herself. Her response was a grumbly “What is compassion anyway!” Quietly and calmly I responded, “Compassion is the ability to be with someone as they are, not trying to fix what is but allowing what is present in the space to move.”

“Life is supposed to be . . .” and “Life should be . . .” are two statements that often get us into trouble. Reflecting these words back to her, and how they felt in her body, we began to explore how she could accept what is here now. Life is the way it is, and the way you live with what is, (not, “supposed to be” or “should be”) makes all the difference.

Noted religious scholar Karen Armstrong cites the Golden Rule as the embodiment of compassion Do to others what you would have them do to you.

So to have compassion for oneself requires you to “do unto yourself as you would have others do unto you.” Or “do unto yourself as you would do unto others who would do unto you.” For me this entails being with others as they are. So I realized I had to be with myself as I was.

Being with ourselves is all very well when we are calm and happy and life is good. But it is equally important to be with our anger and to make room for our discontent. These are primal energies that require authentic responses.

Allowing unpleasant and uncomfortable energies to have their space and time to move through us consciously creates a healthy and balanced life. Acknowledging the existence of jealousy, resentment, and rage and letting them move through us in a healthy fashion so we can make new choices is part of their purpose for showing up.

We are meaning makers, in my client’s cry “What is this Karma?” I hear her asking “what is the meaning of this life I am living right now?” I perceivethe energy of her life asking her to become conscious and choose differently, to have compassion for herself.

This is what it is to be human. It is also what it is to be with the Divine that moves through us. Whether we believe it or not, one of our jobs is to show up, to be the vessel for the universal energy, Divine Spark, God, Spirit, Higher Power, Force (whatever you refer to as the energy that animates and makes life possible), to move through us. This takes practice.

Activating consciousness to the energy that is asking to move out of your life, is key. Sometimes we need help to do this. There are a myriad of ways to get help. A trusted friend, a minister, a gifted therapist, a movement class, an art class, no matter what modality, if you listen and be with you where you are, the answers will come to help move the energies through you.

Here are three steps how to begin to be with yourself  as you are:

1 Stop – Take stock and acknowledge how you feel – can you name the emotion? Can you notice the sensations in your body? Where are they?

2 Ask what you have to learn? You can speak directly to the emotion. “Ok I am really angry, anger what do you need? What do you want me learn from you right now?

3 Wait, be witness to what will rise to the surface. You may get a message to go to a dance class, go see your therapist, to draw, a book may fall open with the exact passage that will shift your current state.

Scott Peck says in his book The Different Drum “The greatest gift we can give each other is our own woundedness.”  This coming holiday season, with stresses and old family stories arising, sharing where you are with another empathic being will help you to understand “What is the Karma.”  I wish you a sacred and blessed season filled with the gift of Compassion for yourself.

Nadine Saxton – MA, CMA, CRST

4 Easy Herbs to Fight Colds and Infections

Dr. Kim Callaghan, Naturopathic Doctor

September 27, 2015
It’s that time of year again when colds, flus, and infections start popping up everywhere.
With the kids back to school lots of families are exposed to all kinds of viruses and bacteria just waiting to grab hold.  Here are some easy herbs that fight these infectious little stinkers:
Garlic – Garlic is currently being studied in the treatement of bacteria resistant to pharmaceutical antibiotics and the results are promising.  Researchers have found that garlic posseses anti-bacterial properties on it’s own but they have also found that garlic enhances the effect of chemical antibiotics on resistant bacteria.  Garlic is also anti-fungal and anti-parasitic.  Studies are inconclusive if it works against viruses but traditional medicine uses garlic for all sniffles, coughs, fevers, and infections.  Add extra raw garlic to hummus, pasta sauce, soups, stews for yummy flavour and microbe killer action!
Basil – We have a ton of basil growing in our garden this year.  In fact, 5 of our neighbours have sheepishly admitted to stealing our basil leaves!  I think my enthusiastic mini-lecture on it’s wonderful anti-microbe properties took them by surprise.  But, truly, I love this herb.  Basil’s anti-bacterial properties are also being studied for usage in drug-resistant bacterial infections.  Specifically E. coli infections.  And happily, basil works to kill these super-adaptive little guys.  It has also been shown to kill viruses – and researchers are checking into it’s anti-parasitic characteristics.  One of the reasons I love this herb is that kids will often chomp on basil without complaint.  You can add it to everything.  You can make your own basil oil by adding a bunch of fresh or dried basil to olive oil and let it sit for several hours.  Add garlic and, boom, microbes don’t stand a chance.
Rosemary – Have you seen those gorgeous rosemary potted “Christmas trees”?  They’re beautiful and so easy to care for.  And…anti-microbial! Rosemary also works to kill E.coli resistant to conventional antibiotics and is used to kill fungus, parasites, and viruses.  Studies have focused specifically on the Herpes virus and, again, results are positive.  Rosemary is a pretty strong flavour but can be added to potatoes (especially roast potato skins), meats, breads, pasta and rice dishes.
Ginger -Ginger kills all kinds of nasty microbes.  Here are a few germs that researchers have found ginger to be effect against: Streptococcus, E. coli, Pseuomonous, H.pylori (these are bacteria – some of which are resistant to pharmaceutical antibiotics), herpes simplex virus, human respiratory syncytial virus, Blastocystis hominis (a tiny and determined parasite), Candida species.  So… bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungus.  Pretty great.  Lately my hubby has been putting ginger into sauces with honey and garlic which are delish.  The kids will dip veggies and sausages in ginger honey sauces.  And they’ve enjoyed ginger, lemon, strawberry popsicles.  Nice.
I haven’t even mentioned that garlic helps the cardiovascular system, rosemary and basil work as tremendous antioxidants, and ginger works as an antinausea.  Oh, and all of them have anticancer properties.  Oh, and they’re delicious!

 

Here’s to lots of flavourful herbs to kill microbes and keep us healthy.

May Updates

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Paul Davis DNM

Dietary and Lifestyle Factors and Their Impact on Insulin Resistance, Obesity, Diabetes, PCOS, Metabolic Syndrome, Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Heart Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease

Most of us have grown up eating the SAD, ‘standard american diet’. At some point many of us will have realized that it’s not a very healthy diet. If you’re reading this right now, you’ve probably tried to upgrade your dietary choices by reducing saturated fat, eating whole grains and cutting back on refined carbs and eating more vegetables and fruits. Hopefully that has helped you with your weight loss goals, hormonal health and perhaps with your cholesterol or blood sugar regulation. If not, please take a look at some of the ideas I’m presenting here.

If you’re gaining weight as the years go on you may be getting more calories than you require for your lifestyle energy output. That’s probably not a surprise! What seems to be surprising to many is that simply cutting down on total daily calories often does not help with people’s weight loss goals.

If your cholesterol is going up as the years go on even though you have tried to reduce excess fats that may be puzzling too. If you have been told by your doctor that you are Pre-diabetic, have PCOS, Metabolic Syndrome or NAFLD (Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease or Heart Disease), you may not have realized that these conditions are all related to poor blood sugar control and/or insulin resistance.

After being in practice for 25 years I have seen a lot of dietary trends come and go, and as I’ve observed patients (and myself) aging I’d say that in general, most people tend to underestimate their progression of disease over time. We don’t see a lot of it because it’s on the inside and we’re all involved in the day to day challenges of life so that gradual changes in our health bio-markers end up being low in priority. If our annual check up is ‘OK’ we feel that we’re on track to continued good health.

We may be told that our cholesterol is beginning to get a bit high, or perhaps the blood sugar is at a pre-diabetic level, or that our blood pressure is starting to go up but there are medications for that so it’s manageable. And medications are certainly an excellent answer for poor control of blood sugar and cardiovascular risk factors. However, relying on them only to solve the problem is not the best first line approach. A best first line approach should usually include a very pro-active and personalized diet and lifestyle prescription.

If you have been diagnosed with any of the above conditions, then you can assume that the day before you were diagnosed you were heading there for months and perhaps years or decades. So I think it’s safe to say that being more pro-active about preventing health decline will very likely pay off in terms of quality and quantity of life. We can reverse our biological age by eating better food, increasing physical activity, improving our home, work and play environments and by managing stress more effectively.

In this article I’m focusing on dietary factors because for most people learning how to shop for and prepare high micronutrient density low-glycemic foods is a challenging learning curve. If you rely on standard dietary guidelines and prepared food ingredient lists to guide you, you will likely fall short of your goals. The reason is that there are too many low-quality options within the standard guideline categories. Food companies tend to formulate their products so that they are inexpensive to manufacture, tasty and have a long shelf life; purity and nutrient content is sacrificed. Nutritional content is generally inferior to that found in fresh foods and the presence of artificial flavours and colour enhancers, low-quality oils, excess salt, excess sugars or sweeteners and other non-nutritional components have questionable merit. I think many people realize this and have been trying to cook more meals from scratch, eat ‘slow food’ rather than fast food and avoid chemical food additives when possible.

Unfortunately, many people who have improved their diets are still slowly or quickly developing insulin resistance as they age. The fasting blood sugar looks OK but your body is having to make a lot more insulin to control it, because the insulin receptors are not responding as they previously did. Baseline insulin levels go up. Having chronic over-secretion of insulin negatively impacts all of the conditions I’ve listed above. Long term negative consequences also include a higher risk for many cancers as well as Alzheimer’s Disease, a disease that will become more and more common as Baby Boomer’s and Gen Xers enter their later years.

The reasons that insulin resistance occurs are somewhat complex and include dietary and lifestyle stress, genetics as well as environmental factors. However, this process can be reversed to a large extent and managed well with the consistent application of an individualized lifestyle ‘prescription’. There is no ‘one size fits all approach’ and I would not suggest a dietary plan to a patient without sitting down with them and looking at their lifestyle factors and dietary patterns and negotiating a plan they can live with!

I believe in a complementary medical model where conventional and alternative solutions to health care challenges are given equal consideration. I do not advise patients to discontinue their current medications and I am happy to work with their primary health care practitioners to strike a balance between therapeutic lifestyle change and conventional management of risk factors. I believe that this complementary model of health care is essential for optimal health outcomes at the personal and public health level.

Going forward, I see a clear need for more attention to be placed on the prevention and early intervention of insulin resistance-related diseases. A personalized lifestyle and dietary approach can help many people who trying to figure out what they can do to be and feel healthier. If a patient wants to work on their health and wellness pro-actively, Naturopathic Medicine provides an approach that can provide inspiration and workable solutions!

Welcome to talk touch move!

sliderfour Hello and welcome to the talk touch move blog.  We are just in the process of finishing our online presence.  We hope, with our newsletters and blog posts, to keep you current on the many exciting things that are happening in alternative health care and the specialized services and workshops we will be offering from our space at 357 Jane St.

talk touch move is a community of dedicated health and wellness professionals.  We offer services in psychotherapy, marriage and family therapy, art therapy, naturopathic medicine, nutritional counseling, addiction and pastoral counseling, somatic therapy, yoga and yoga therapy and various forms of massage. Our community of specialists are trained to alleviate the often debilitating effects of trauma whether the source is physical, emotional or spiritual.  Our integrated approach to well being is one of respect for our clients.

We hope you like our new site talktouchmove.ca. It was designed and constructed by our dear friend Alisa Kerr.  If you have any need for truly creative graphic or new media design we highly recommend Alisa.  She can be reached at alisa.kerr@hidefproductions.ca.