Ingrid Solano, PhD
CommunicationCommunication is about expressing ourselves in a healthy way, listening, and hearing our partners. It takes attention, effort, and fairness. It’s about understanding and working towards realizing our relationship values. However, communication is often blocked before it even begins. Unexpressed expectations, stonewalling, mind-reading, scorecards, blame, and always/nevers are all patterns that are easy to fall into and difficult to overcome. The first step is recognizing where what gets in the way of effective communication and how we can work to address and overcome those blocks…
Are you a good communicator?
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw
Systems MatterRelationships are important for every area of life: our health, well-being, career, family, chosen family, friends, and community. Relationship distress can impact our immune system and even shorten our life. In a time of stressed relationships, imbalances in giving and taking, entitlement, unfulfillment, and expectations, we complicate our experiences of care and support. Healthy relationships protect us from stress and help us thrive. Working mindfully to accept and understand how we affect our environments and relationships, and vice versa, promotes successful long-term change and growth. Let’s create a systemic strategy for universal progress.
What are the most important relationships in your life? What environments and relationships have fostered your greatest sense of self?
Intimacy & SexualityIntimacy is a feeling of being close, emotionally connected, heard, seen, understood, valued, and supported. Sexuality has the potential to be a powerful and positive force that deepens intimate connection. It can also have many of its own challenges that come from each partner: their past experiences, social influences, and how we see ourselves in their eyes. Having needs does not make you needy or codependent. Vulnerability and intimacy require bravery. Exploring intimacy and sexuality within and without can be healing, affirming and strengthening in all our relationships... starting with our relationship with ourselves.
Do you find yourself not being present, more like a spectator watching for your partner's reactions? How do you tune into your relationship? How do you tune into yourself?
Ethical-Non-Monogamy & CompersionThe keys to practicing ethical non-monogamy (ENM) are open communication, consent, and honesty among all parties involved. This means that everyone is aware of the other relationships, as well as the boundaries and expectations that come with them. ENM allows for individuals to explore their sexuality and relationships in ways that are authentic and fulfilling for them, while still respecting the needs and desires of their partners. Therapy can help you refine and define these skills, explicitly. All while fostering compersion. Compersion is about deriving joy from seeing another person’s joy. It’s about empathizing with their happiness.
Is compersion the opposite of jealousy? Should I expect and acknowledge jealousy in these relationships?
Self as ContentWe have a personal narrative that includes objective facts, subjective details, social roles, gender roles-- so many different scripts. Authentic community nurtures us. It is central to our identities, and even our ability to be adaptable in those identities. However, sometimes we can be lost in the 'rules', experiences, and habits of the relationships we live in. We can give up our psychological flexibility in our relationships by filling in a familiar role or struggling against a seemingly familiar experience unknowingly. We are the relationship patterns that work for us, and the ones that don’t work for us. The first step is recognizing which habits, patterns and relationship roles serve us as we learn and grow… and which don’t…
What are your values and boundaries? Do they define you or do you define them? Are they old, antiquated habits or do they serve you as you grow?
Support for Diverse RelationshipsMany people avoid seeking mental health services due to feeling they will not be understood-- or worse, that they will be judged. The feeling of being flawed or different can lead to shame, avoidance, and anxiety. Feeling different can make expressing ourselves and our relationships feel tedious and hopeless. In affirming therapy, it is important to embrace a positive view of diversity in identity and relationships, and acknowledge and address the negative influences on diverse clients. Support and validation have to land where you need them, not just where other people think you do.
Are you able to be your authentic self with those around you? Do you feel seen and heard? Are you able to be self-affirming?
Modern Love, Digital Relationships & Ghosting“Apologies without change and atonement are just manipulation.” Ingrid Solano, PhD
Modern love can be hard to navigate. Why do so many of us feel lonely, now more than ever? Is there a decline in genuine, authentic, and especially intimate relationships? It can seem like creating committed relationships just becomes more and more difficult. Maybe it's the "paradox of choice," meaning the more options we see, the less satisfied we can be with our ultimate decision. Maybe we aren't as forthcoming with our intentions? Maybe “the apps” just aren’t rewarding anymore. Maybe we’re afraid of getting ghosted again. Therapy can help you navigate all these choices and situations by exploring how and when they have worked for you, and why they may not be working any longer. Therapy and Coaching can help you define your goals, methods, and expectations, so you can attract the type of relationships you want-- while also avoiding bad habits.
How do you connect through all this bread-crumbing, ghosting, zombie-ing, love-bombing, and even "Date me, I'm in therapy!" traps?