Tag Archives: girlfriend

Psychotherapist Discusses Fifty Shades Of Grey Concerns On CityNews

Our own Carol Anne Austin was interviewed on City News about the concerns surrounding the movie 50 Shades of Grey. One concern is that it may normalize abuse in relationships. Carol Anne explained that this movie may be perpetuating some cultural scripts around some traditional gender roles and that different standards for what might be appropriate sexually for men and women can lead to harmful outcomes.

In addition, the dominance theme is one of the concerns, especially given that some young women viewing this movie may not be sexually experienced. Carol Anne spoke about the importance of having these discussions with our family, with youth and with our children. She explained that the pairing of sex and violence in media is very rampant and that it is important to have discussions around this to make sure we are watching media with a critical eye.

It can be uncomfortable for parents to have these sexual discussions with their teens and Carol Anne discussed that it’s okay for parents to share that sentiment with their teens. Also, parents can seek the help of a teacher, guidance counselor, sex educator or sex therapist if they feel it is outside their comfort zone.

Another concern about 50 Shades of Grey is that this movie may blur the lines of consent. Carol Anne explained that this film is depicting BDSM and it can be great to play around with power in our sexual relationships but we need to make sure to establish explicit consent about this ahead of time. Yes needs to mean yes. Just because we consent to one sexual act doesn’t mean that we consent to other acts down the line. Especially when we want to play with power or pain in our sexual acts we need to make sure everything is explicitly discussed ahead of time and that no one is surprised.


3 Ways To Lessen Your Anxiety About Your New Relationship

Toronto Psychologist Healthy RelaitonshipsYou are in a new relationship. It’s magical yet unpredictable. Things seem to be going great but you may not always know what tomorrow might bring. You may have some concerning thoughts. Is trust a problem? Will the spark fizzle out in a few more months? Will your partner commit to you forever? Do you want to marry this person?

There are countless reasons why a person might be feeling anxiety in his/her relationship. However, anxiety early in a relationship often stems from issues such as commitment and trust.

It will probably be helpful to have a meeting with yourself to examine the source of your anxiety and think about the meaning of your nervousness.

It is very normal to experience some anxiety and worry during the early part of your romantic relationship. In a way, it’s a good sign. It means that your relationship is meaningful to you and that you are allowing yourself to experience some vulnerability. However, it can be uncomfortable and unhealthy to experience too much anxiety so here are three ways to bring more calm to your exciting romantic experience:

1. Examine your partner’s actions

You might feel as if you want your relationship verbally validated very regularly. However, depending on the person, this may not happen as often as you would like. Instead, look at other ways your partner tells you that he/she wants to be in the relationship. There are many ways of expressing affection other than through words and these ways can be even more powerful. Recognize the small things your partner does for you. Basically, if a person wants to be in your life, he/she will make the effort to stay there.

2. Communicate

If a relationship is starting to feel too all over the place and causing you stress, it might be time to sit down with your partner to discuss your relationship. Gently inquire where your partner’s thoughts and feelings are at and check to see if you are both on the same page. This type of conversation might be best down in a private and relaxed setting when it is an appropriate time for both of you.

3. Try to develop balanced thoughts about your relationship

The harsh reality is that many relationships end. Therefore, it might be important to value your relationship for what it is now and recognize its importance even if it will end one day. Try to remember that even if you feel a relationship ended in failure it is still a valuable lesson for the future. Remind yourself that even though you might be very sad if your relationship does not work out, you will be able to recover and move on. Empowering yourself with balanced thinking allows you to have more control over your thoughts and emotions. When you have more control over your thoughts and emotions it may help you feel more control over your anxiety about your relationship.

In the end, it is always a leap of faith!

Best of luck with your relationship! 🙂

By: Danielle Taylor


7 Things He Wants You to Know About Dating

keep-an-open-mind-101-happy-quotes-and-tipsDating can be fun, frustrating, exciting, and miserable all at the same time.  After failed attempts to
make it to relationship status, we often ask ourselves, “What are they thinking?!” Ladies, fret no more, here is what he wants you to know about dating.

1. “Playing hard to get is a turn off to a mature man and like a crack addiction for boys.”

My dad always told me, “Men value what they earn.” Although true, it sounds like we need to make sure we give them the opportunity to earn it.  One man explained “We like the chase but don’t forget you agreed to meet. Don’t be afraid to show some interest.”

2.  “Give your honest opinion about date ideas.”

Many of the men I asked shared their frustration with women either not helping to provide date ideas, not having opinions on their date ideas, or giving too many date ideas. One fellow reported, “If a guy asks a gal’s opinion on date options, be honest.  It’s hard enough to guess what she likes, let alone what she could be allergic/scared of”.

3. “It’s just a date.  Lighten up.”

This seems like something we all know but with so much pressure to “find the one”, all your friends walking down the aisle, and the goal to not hit geriatric pregnancy age by the time we are ready to have kids, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to hook the guy.  One man wanted to remind us, “We already like you (thus the date).  We’re asking questions because we are interested in more than your looks.”

4. “Don’t talk about your ex.”

One man explained “On the first date, only bring up history if we ask.  We don’t really care at this point about your ex or dating history.”

5. “Less is more”

Trends tell us we look best with long flowing hair (hair extensions), thick bushy lashes (lash extensions), tan skin (fake tan), and perfect skin (foundation).  But keep in mind that trends that women enjoy are different than what guys necessarily find attractive.  I guess he isn’t just sweet
talking you when he says you are beautiful when you wake up.

6. “Ask us questions”

Guys said they know the importance of asking questions on a date, especially to keep
conversation flowing, but that it can be a turn off if ladies spend the date only sharing about
themselves.  In fact, some men reported a ladies’ interest and ability to ask questions is a turn
on.  So ladies, try to make that convo 50/50.

7. “An offer to pay goes a long way”

Men agreed that women should offer to pay, but also that you should only let them pay if you
are interested.  They also recognized that more women are practicing “casual dating” than in
the past and if that’s the case, more power to you, but transparency is appreciated prior to
letting them fork up the cash.

By: Ashley Callahan


3 Ways To Get Into A Positive Dating Mindset

a-purple_tulips_cup_of_coffee-1514218After being stuck in the dating scene for a while and probably experiencing some rejection, many people become jaded about the dating process. While dating is definitely not always an easy or pleasant experience, there are a few ways to develop a positive attitude and make dating a bit more enjoyable.

1. Focus on you before the date

Do what you need to do to feel great about yourself. Participating in some self care is a great way to relax and pamper yourself. Try to keep your mind off the date so that you can avoid becoming too anxious. Tell yourself that anyone would be lucky to go on a date with you and take the time to prepare to present the best version of yourself. Get pumped to some invigorating music while you are getting ready and celebrate you.

2. Decide that you are going to have a great time

Having a positive attitude about yourself and the potential of the date is beneficial for you and attractive to your date. Being engaging is key. Ask your date lots of questions, smile and act at ease as much as you can. We might feel like giving up when a date does not meet our expectations, however, you are still spending time with another human being so make the most of that time. Treat even a person you know you will reject with lots of respect and kindness. Have a great time because you are great company even if your date is not.

3. Share with your friends after the date

Talking about a date afterwards can be cathartic and free some of the tension that built up. If the date went horribly, seek the support of your friends and try to think that you now have a new bad date story to add to your list as most people do.

By: Danielle Taylor


10 Relationship Issues That Can Benefit From Professional Counselling

toronto-couples-relationship-counselling.jpgHave you been having relationship problems with your partner, family, friends or someone important in your life lately? In life, complications between the people we love arise and there are ways to solve those complications through many different ways. There are healthy and appropriate ways to solve those complications and two of the options are through counselling or psychotherapy.

Sometimes we ask ourselves, “Am I the only one having problems with the people around me?” Everyone has different circumstances throughout life, and its common for most people to go through rough patches as well as periods of joy throughout their life. It is important for us to recognize that no healthy relationship can avoid conflicts! Issues are created while having interaction with people but that shouldn’t stop us from having relationships with others.

There are many different reasons to why we may not be getting along with the people around us. Have you gone through any of the following lately?

1. Trust Issues
2. Difficulty Communicating
3. Personality Differences
4. Money Problems
5. Life Transitions (Minor or Major)
6. Overcoming Grief and Loss
7. Dating/Lack of Intimacy/Ending of a Relationship
8. Parenting/Controlling or Needy Partners
9. Coping with Each Other’s Extended Family/Blended Family
10. Household Responsibilities/Toxic or Judgemental Household Climate

Sometimes, all we need is to chat things over with a friend or family member, or even have some time to think on our own about the issue. Other times, therapy is a great option to explore why we’re having relationship issues and work out skills and coping strategies so we don’t end up in the situation again.

In Counselling and Therapy, we learn to:
1. Recognize the problem, treat it and become stable (emotionally and mentally)
2. Develop skills to work out obstacles in a lively and appropriate way
3. Learn to listen, process, and understand others
4. Establish skills to say what you want in a assertive way without being disoriented by emotions such as anger or resentment
5. Develop full capability to realize how the other person feels and what they want

At KMA Therapy we offer different types of services for Relationship Issues, such as:

– Counselling for Relationships
– Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
– Relationship Therapy
– Relationship Management Counselling

If you’re interested in any of these services, please contact us and we’ll be thrilled to help. Have a great day!

By: Kimberly Moffit

Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Mental Health Professional

Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Mental Health Professional


6 Things to Keep in Mind During a Breakup

heart-broken-purple-loveBreakups can be a terribly painful experience. If you are currently going through one, my heart goes out to you. It’s the worst. Our thoughts and feelings can often turn into a chaotic mess of negativity and ice cream doesn’t always help us feel better.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when you’re breaking up:

1. We need to accept our feelings

After feeling sadness, anger and other negative emotions for longer than we feel we should, it can sometimes be easy to turn the negative feelings towards ourselves. Try to accept that your feelings are normal and try not to beat yourself up for feeling a certain way. Give yourself credit for investing yourself in someone else and giving enough that the feelings of loss are painful. It means that you truly tried and know how to give a relationship a real effort. This is good news for your future relationship(s).

2. Sometimes we never completely get over a person

Each person we have a relationship has unique qualities that may be impossible to find in someone else. If you didn’t have a reason to dislike a feature in a person anymore those feelings may not change so easily. This isn’t saying to not try to let go of the failed relationship. We must learn to cope without it. However, we may need to learn to live without it rather than getting over it to the point that it no longer is meaningful. Sometimes relationships are so impactful that they leave a mark on our hearts forever. This is okay to accept and it is important to realize that these types of significant events become part of who we are.

3. It is okay to lean on others during grieving

Breakups are time when it is completely normal and healthy to lean on our friends and family. As much as it feels at time to shut the world out, try to allow in the people who want to be there for you. It can be very cathartic to talk about your breakup to your friends and family if you need to process what happened.

4. We do not have to listen to people telling you to “get over it”

While you are in a vulnerable state it is important to choose who you want support from. Occasionally, there are people will not be able to relate to your pain. They may not understand where you are coming from and tell you things like “just get over it” and “try to stop thinking about him/her”. It isn’t helpful when others tell you how you should feel and what you should do. Finding friends and family who accept your fragile state and can offer proper empathy, sensitivity and relatedness is key. Sometimes finding support from a therapist can provide hugely beneficial guidance as well.

5. There is only so much we can expect from others (our strength will ultimately come from within)

While we can definitely lean on others, it’s important to keep in mind that as much as they can listen and empathize, they cannot ultimately take the pain away. Our strength to be able to cope comes from within even it takes a while to show up. Try to remind yourself of your positive qualities everyday and tell yourself that you do not need others to validate those qualities.

6. Be a friend to yourself

After you have given too much love to someone else it’s possible to feel so empty that you feel as though you lost yourself. Remind yourself that you still have you. When you feel yourself fading from someone’s memory it can start to feel like you are disappearing. Remind yourself that you are still here and take care of yourself. Do things that you like and that make you happy. Find yourself again be there to comfort yourself during this time of grieving. It can also be therapeutic to channel our negative energy into something productive and or creative.

Grieving after a breakup is a normal process and it is not always a straightforward path. Temporary relapses may occur but time and space will dull the pain. If it seems as though there is no end in sight for your tears, the guidance of a therapist may help you process your situation and bring you back to feeling more like yourself again.

By: Danielle Taylor



How To Know If Your Relationship Is On the Rocks

glass-heart-purple-loveHas your relationship just felt a little ‘off’ lately? Have you tried to pinpoint what’s wrong, and have trouble coming up with anything definitive?

Most couples experience hiccups over the course of their relationships. What determines the success in a relationship is often how the couple bounces back after adversity. By understanding when your relationship is going through a rough patch, you’ll be better able to sail through the choppy waters together, and find calm and peace at the end of it.

1. Have jokes gone from fun to uncomfortable?

Did you and your partner used to laugh and joke around with each other comfortably? Maybe this was even the reason you were attracted to them in the first place. Now – have the jokes been less about laughing with one another, and more directed at one of you? It’s one thing to make playful jokes at the other one’s expense, but it’s another when those jokes start feeling mean. It’s common for couples to use humor to deflect talking about serious issues. If your jokes seem to be hiding a hidden message, and chances are, not a good one… Then you might want to take a step back and look at where this is coming from.

2. When you start losing R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

It’s important to seek help for your relationship the second that the respect starts waning. Many couples seek relationship counseling AFTER they have lost respect for their partner. However, it’s important to look at your relationship in a critical light the second you notice this. Why? Even more important than the lack of respect is WHY you’ve started losing respect for your partner. Is it a behavior? A new pattern they’ve adopted? You need to start breaking the habits and patterns that lead to disrespect right when they begin, so as to not create a downward spiral.

3. When you start imagining a happier life without them

Have you started fantasizing about your life without your partner? Do you dream of meeting other partners in romantic situations? If so – this could be a significant sign that your relationship is in need of some TLC. While it can be normal to imagine about what your life may be like if you were single, or with someone else, it becomes problematic when these thoughts become frequent and positive. If when you imagine being without your partner frequently, and these fantasies are a source of happiness and escape for you, it’s time to examine your relationship.

Couples counseling is a wonderful option for partner’s whose relationship is in need of some repair. Although rare and difficult, it’s actually best to go to couples counseling before you think you need it. Once you desperately need it, the work you put into your therapy is going to be harder, and the estimated time spent in therapy together is likely to be longer. Go to couples counseling when you still think you can solve the problem on your own – it might help you and partner resolve issues before they become a major problem!

By: Kaya Quinsey

Kaya Quinsey

4 Important Ways to Cultivate a Deeper Emotional Connection in your Relationship

Learning-disabilities-toronto-psychologistPerhaps you are enjoying the freshness of a new relationship. Everything seems so exciting and romantic. Maybe you want to start laying the foundation for something potentially more serious. Without leaving behind the fun and playfulness, how do we start connecting on a deeper emotional level? Everyone knows that communication is one of the primary ingredients of a successful relationship. How do you specifically utilize our communication skills to create a deeper bond? Here are some important ways to nourish your relationship and deepen your emotional connection.

Actively Listen

Proper listening is at the heart of successful communication. Do you really listen when your partner talks to you? It is not only important to be focused and give your partner your full attention but the best communication comes from participating actively while listening. When your partner is speaking to you, practice active listening by:

· Watching your partner’s body language and gestures

· Making a conscious effort to hear the message your partner is communicating

· Paraphrase or restate what you hear so that you are able to confirm with him/her that you understand what he/she is saying.

Active listening will help you get to know you partner’s personality as a whole. The more you actively listen, the more you will understand and be able to strengthen the emotional connection.


Empathy is the ability to recognize, share and understand the feelings of another person. Do you have an idea of how your partner is feeling most of the time? Practicing empathy leads to a better understanding of your partner’s perspective. This allows you to learn more about how your partner thinks and feels and what moods and patterns they experience therefore opening a door into their emotional tendencies. To share empathy with your partner it is necessary to share feelings and emotions associated with specific experiences. Sometimes open-ended questions are needed to explore unexpressed emotions:

· What was it like for you when….

· Tell me more about what was going on for you when….

· What were you experiencing when…

Empathy allows you to be present with your partner and actively show that you care. Empathy also lets you to be supportive when your partner is experiencing negative situations, thoughts and emotions.


Showing appreciation is a way of displaying affection verbally. This is just as important as showing affection physically. What do you value about your partner? Do you thank your partner for his or her positive qualities? It is an important part of communication to verbally show your appreciation. Small expressions of gratitude and politeness such as saying please and thank you go a long way. Frequent compliments and flirtation are nice ways to keep the spark in a relationship going too.

· Thank you for ….

· It means a lot to me that you….

· I love when you….

Self- Disclose

To have a good emotional connection in a relationship you must be able to self-disclose. This allows your partner into your world and lets him/her truly get to know the “real” you while gradually sharing your vulnerabilities.

Examples of this type of self-disclosure include:

· Telling stories and experiences from your childhood

· Sharing your dreams and passions

· Talking about the significant people in your life

· Explaining some of your fears

Proper communication has the power to create strong feelings of trust, love, bonding and satisfaction in your relationship.

Of course, for a relationship to be successful you should be receiving all of the above from your partner. If you find yourself practicing the above list without much in return, it might be time to reevaluate the relationship.

By: Danielle Taylor


Three Ways To Be Less Selfish

glass-heart-purple-loveWhen it comes to relationships, is it all about you? You might not realize when you’re only looking out for number one. It can become a habit to think exclusively about yourself. Healthy relationships have a hefty dose of compromise weaved into them on a regular basis. In the context of your relationship, without considering the needs of both your partner and yourself you put your relationship in a dangerous zone. In order to be less selfish, you don’t have to compromise on your needs entirely, or make it all about the other person! There’s a way to have a healthy, fulfilling relationship in which both parties are heard and feel that they share the spotlight.

You might be selfish in your relationship if you:

  1. Like to be in control
  2. Lack the ability to compromise
  3. You turn the attention to yourself
  4. Do you get restless doing the activity your partner wants to do?
  5. Losing an argument makes you feel horrible
  6. You have trouble apologizing
  7. You usually end up getting your way

Here’s what you can do to turn your relationship around, and show what a great partner you can be!

1. Gain Self-Awareness

Try practicing mindfulness meditation, or writing in a journal to reflect on how you feel. What’s going on with you? What emotions are you dealing with today? By figuring out what emotions you are experiencing, you have the option be able to tackle them and deal with them right away. If you need some time to yourself, take an hour or two doing something you love all on your own. That way, you will be less likely to explode at your partner that you need space later on. You get your needs met, and your partner will love seeing you happy. It’s a win-win for everyone!

2. Show Your Gratitude

Remember how you acted at the beginning of your relationship? If you’re like a lot of couples, you were probably amazed when they brought you coffee just the way you like it, or started stocking their fridge with your favourite snacks. You also probably gave your partner a huge “THANK YOU!” for these small, but thoughtful gestures. Over time, we stop noticing these small gestures as they become commonplace in our lives. Start by noting the little things your partner goes out of their way to do, and THANK THEM for it! You don’t have to be elaborate, but a sincere compliment after your partner makes your eggs in the morning can start your day off on the right foot.

3. Listen

In our busy world today, we often come home and while our partners are telling us about their days, we are checking our emails, texting our friends, or watching the latest episode of our favourite show. You might be trying to listen while you’re doing these things, but in reality you’re likely missing a large portion of what they’re saying. You’re missing important cues — body language, facial expressions and even large chunks of what they’re telling you. Your partner might be giving you all the information you need to give them the TLC that they require, but you’re not listening! Take the time to really devote ten minutes to your partner when you get home to hear about their day. It’s a skill that will help relationships in all aspects of your life!

By: Kaya Quinsey


Why Technology Can Harm Your Relationships

164632_mWhy Technology May be Harmful to Relationships

Technology and social media are at the centre of the majority of our relationships and have certainly changed the way we communicate with one another.  We show interest by liking photos, keep people up to date with our daily activities through status updates and tweets, and do a large portion of our communication through texting, instant messages, and emails.  While I can’t deny the value of technology (and am probably more dependent on it than I care to admit), it can also negatively impact relationships and weaken personal connections. Here are a few of the common problems that suggest sometimes it may be better to have a good old fashioned phone call.

Technology Can Limit Our Authenticity

Many people think that communicating through texting or email is great because it allows us to be the best version of ourselves.  It’s easy to appear witty, charming, and intellectual when we have time to craft our messages and think about what it is we want to say. However, the problem is that we then lose the spontaneity of human interaction and our authentic selves. Face to face interaction can become challenging if we become used to the distance that can be created by technology.  This can be particularly harmful at the beginning of relationships.  Texting, for example, can be great for banter and flirting, but may also trick us into thinking that here is a real connection when in fact the chemistry is seriously lacking in person. There is nothing wrong with wanting to make the best impression on the people you interact with but you want to be able to maintain who you are from texting to talking in person. It’s important to present the real you rather than creating false impressions.

It can give the illusion of deeper connections

Many people have equated being in constant communication with a strong emotional connection.  In some cases this may be true, but in many others the quality of the interactions is surface level and mundane.  Texting frequently can certainly communicate interest in another person but may also be a symptom of boredom or attachment issues. As with most things in life it’s all about quality over quantity.

There is a lot of Room for Misinterpretation

Communication via text, instant message, or email can be great to get a quick message across but the lack of non-verbals and tone means that a lot can be left up to the interpretation of the receiver.  We all know that “Hi.” Can read differently than “Hi!” and seemingly small details like that often cause a lot of anxiety and insecurity to the person reading the message.  We are left to decode what is being said and often assign a tone or a meaning based on how we may be feeling which might not have been the intention of the other person. This creates room for conflict and hurt. If you find yourself constantly trying to decipher the messages from others, it may be helpful to simply pick up the phone and have a conversation.

Technology Creates the Expectation that we are Always Available

Cellphones and computers mean that the large majority of us are reachable all of the time.  This creates a lot of pressure to actually be reachable all of the time and the expectation that we should be. The problem with this is two-fold.  First of all, it is again breading grounds for insecurity and misinterpretation.  If we send a message to someone and the response is not instant or relatively speedy, we sometimes start to ask questions – Why is she ignoring me?  Did I do something wrong? Etc.  We can also become frustrated.  The second problem works in the opposite way.  If we are attached to our phones and texting friends and loved ones all day long there may come a point where there is nothing much else to say.  If my partner knows how all of my work meetings went, what I had for lunch, and the great workout I had, there won’t necessarily be a whole lot to talk about when we sit down for dinner.  Sometimes it can be better to spare some details throughout the day, in order to make for more fruitful in-person connections.

Technology Allows us to be Selective with What we Attend to

Just like we can be crafty with the way we respond to messages, we can also be selective with what we attend to.  It is a lot easier to ignore messages we don’t want to see or avoid confrontation when it’s coming at us digitally rather than in person.  While this can be helpful at personal level in the short term it can also create a lot of frustration and resentment within relationships.  Engaging in conflict or serious conversations via text or email can also feel safer given the perceived distance and illusion of anonymity but in reality it can create bigger problems while also devaluing a conversation that would be better served in person.

And the bottom line….

Technology has simplified our lives in ways we may have never thought possible.  It is neither inherently bad nor good, however, the ways in which we choose to use it can be.  It’s important to be mindful of the way we communicate with others and the impact it is having on your relationships.  So, if you find yourself spending too much time planning out messages or feel distant from others despite being in constant communication, it may be time to pick up the phone or plan some face-to-face interaction in order to build stronger, deeper connections with the people in your life.

By: Catherine Kamel

counsellor, psychologist, psychotherapy