Boris Herzberg
Psychoanalytic Therapist
Relationship Consultant

Boris Herzberg
Psychoanalytic Therapist
Relationship Consultant

Boris Herzberg
Psychoanalytic Therapist
Relationship Consultant
Parental Envy: The Silent Thief of Joy and Fulfillment
Finding your first therapist. What you need to know.
The standing legacy of psychoanalysis. Why Freudian psychoanalysis is still relevant today.
Defining Unhealthy Emotional Co-dependency
Not Just Sadness. Decomposing Depression.
What to do when your partner screams at you?
4 Ways to Manage Anger Within a Relationship
Carl Jung and Mysticism: Connecting Astrology, the Sun, the Collective Unconscious and the "Self"
The Complexities of Dating the Children of Narcissists
The Deafening Silence: Exploring 4 Instances of Silence in Relationships
Individual or Couples Therapy: How to Know What You Need?
Anxious Attachment Style and Its Impact on Couples Therapy
When Your Partner Refuses Couples Therapy: Understanding the 5 Reasons
In the realm of relationships, we can resolve anything, or at least give ourselves a decent chance to, with open and ongoing communication. Imagine what the world would look like, if everybody would suddenly decide to shut down. As brittle as it is now, it is still based on countries and, ultimately, people talking to each other. The silence of bottling up unlids underlying hostility which surfaces and expands while not dissipated by communication. When dialogue falters, it inadvertently weaponizes the relationship, fostering hostility, and impacting both partners and their well-being. Many couples consider therapy when they encounter a communication impasse, when one or both partners feel unheard, emotionally unsafe, or unable to express themselves, and irritation and anger takes the place of the dialogue.

Yet, what happens when one partner is ready to explore therapy, while the other staunchly objects? Let's examine the reasons for such objection.

1. Not Understanding the Seriousness of the Problem

Sometimes, one partner may believe that the issues the other partner brings are manageable and can be resolved privately. However, often the perception of the seriousness of the rift differs greatly between partners. How do you know that both of you attribute the same gravity to the issues that you are discussing? Try sitting down together and make a list of challenges that either one or both of you consider bringing to therapy. Then rank their gravity on the scale from 1 to 10. If you rank some problem 7-9 and your partner ranks it 1-2, maybe he or she does not see your perspective in terms of the gravity and so it'd be helpful for them to see it in plain numbers.

2. Fear of Therapy

Human psyche often resists change, even when we're dissatisfied with our current circumstances. The thought of altering the status quo can stir anxiety, primarily because change is unpredictable, the future uncertain and no one is able to guarantee that the outcome will be better not worse than now. People with anxious-depressive personality may be especially wary of therapy, naturally pessimizing the result, expecting the worse. Surprisingly, even the expressed good-natured extroverts among us who are often adventurous and brave to try something new can be very hesitant when it comes to therapy, as they fear to confront deeply rooted issues that they might not be able to resolve in stride. In couples therapy it can be even more daunting, since one is baring his or her vulnerabilities not just to their therapist, but also to their partner. While it might be true, we need a safe place within the relationship to be vulnerable sometimes, to be afraid and talk about that fear - that makes us human and likeable after all, and helps us connect with the partner.

3. Fear of Judgment

The fear that your partner might have been right all along, coupled with the dread of potential "I told you so" moments revealing themselves as semi-prophetic, can deter some from seeking therapy. Relationships are rife with disagreements and partners are sometimes afraid that if their significant other is proven "right" in therapy, he or she will hold it against them in the future, reminiscing of the past "transgressions" and waving it before their face like a magenta rag before the bull. Here, it is essential to understand that therapy isn't about proving who is who is right and who is wrong. It's about bringing balance to the relationship and helping the partners reach inner harmony as well. After all, we sometimes forget that relationships are also about fun, deep connection, intimacy, a wish to be with one another, and not about passing the buck.

4. Hope that It Will Just Pass

Some challenges may resolve on their own, but in some cases avoidance merely postpones the inevitable solution, does not help deal with unpleasantness and widens the gap between partners. While reading books and seeking advice from friends can be helpful, they also serve as temporary distractions, preventing you from addressing the root issues. If you notice a recurring pattern in your challenges - either them repeating themselves with time, or being the same issues, or similar issues of the same nature, it may be time to seek external help, especially if the problems intensify with time.

5. Decision-Making Dynamics

Deciding to attend counseling and choosing the right counselor, though a serious one, is still just another decision in the chain of decisions that a couple makes on an everyday basis. However, here it highlights your overall approach to decision-making as a couple. How do you agree on other issues besides going to therapy? What is the decision making mechanism for your couple? Perhaps, your mechanism of decision-making is such that one partner decides, and the other goes along. Or, one offers and the other initially refuses. Or, one makes a proposal and waits for the other to make a decision. Scrutinizing this could pave the way both to couples therapy and self-awareness with regards to decisions-making in general.

Understanding and addressing the reluctance beneath your partner's resistance to therapy can open the door to productive conversations and to change.

It is also worth noting that coercing the unwilling partner into therapy is often counterproductive. In order to engage and carry on, they need to be motivated to take part in the transformational process willingly. Otherwise, they might either leave therapy unilaterally or resist by not making change happen. To read more about that, please refer to my article about unconscious resistances in couples therapy.

Published by author on Psychology Today:
Navigating Unseen Barriers to Relationship Transformation: 4 Unconscious Resistances in Couples Therapy
The concept of therapy resistance was initially introduced by the pioneering psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. Freud described it as an unconscious unwillingness to bring the unknown into the light and to make the unconscious conscious. In essence, the psyche often perceives change as perilous, striving to maintain the status quo. This innate resistance to change arises from a perception that changes are dangerous, as they challenge the known, although often unpleasant, yet familiar and predictable reality. Expanding upon Freud's work, his daughter Anna categorized resistances into primitive and advanced types, with primitive resistances akin to those a child would unconsciously use dealing with something unpleasant. To explore these resistances and the emotions that lie beneath them, such as anxiety, fear of the unknown, and reluctance to revisit traumatic experiences and so on, is a pivotal facet of individual psychoanalytic therapy.

In addition to the resistance encountered in individual therapy, couples therapy also grapples with its own unique forms of resistance. Couples often unwittingly merge into a singular entity, and although they seek couples counseling with the genuine intent to improve their relationship and ease their life together, they may still exhibit resistance to the counseling process. If left unaddressed, these resistances may eventually become obstacles that potentially undermine the progress of therapy altogether and make the couple ditch it. So, let's delve into some of the common forms of unconscious resistance encountered in couples therapy, illustrated by real-life examples:

1. Being Overwhelmed with Emotions:
Couples often enter therapy with a wellspring of emotions with the goal to learn to deal with these emotions. Especially, as it often happens with the emotions triggered by something that the partner says and does. Effectively addressing these emotions requires the ability to eventually articulate them, be able to talk about them without having them take charge of you. Let's take imaginative clients John and Sarah, a married couple of ten years. In their counseling sessions, their unresolved anger often leads to shouting matches, directed at each other and sometimes anger unites them together against the counselor, effectively preventing productive communication. Letting oneself feel and be free at feeling whatever occurs during the sessions is actually good for working around these feelings, however only feeling them and acting upon them in the form of a quarrel instead of also talking about them can be a form of resistance to a change. When John and Sarah resort to emotional outbursts instead of discussing their feelings, they further entrench their emotional distance. Emotions are the lifeblood of a relationship, because partners want to feel comfortable around each other, and addressing them through dialogue and discussion ABOUT them is crucial for a positive change.

2. Refusing Dialogue:
A fundamental aspect of any couples, individual or group therapy is fostering open and honest dialogue. In this case resistance can manifest as a reluctance to engage in meaningful conversation. John, for example, stonewalls his wife Emily during therapy sessions, responding with silence or monosyllabic answers when confronted with difficult topics. Sarah feels frustrated that she has to do twice the work. In a similar fashion, interrupting each other repeatedly during counseling, not letting one another finish a single sentence and often interlacing it with the above-mentioned point of being overwhelmed with emotions shuts meaningful dialogue and the gateway to resolving conflicts, something that therapy aims to help with. Whatever we do in the relationship we need to sustain the dialogue.

3. Denying Personal Responsibility:
When a couple comes to therapy they often blame one another for their troubles. It is rather natural and in the process we are studying each partner's responsibility. Yet, unilateral blame and denial of possibility of any personal responsibility on what's going on in the relationship often becomes a common defense mechanism in couples therapy. Sarah consistently blames John for their relationship problems during therapy sessions, absolving herself of any responsibility. "My role", she says, "is minimal. I only react to what John is doing and he's been doing a lot of wrong and hurtful things for a long time!" It is important to remember that a couple consists of two people and they both create the space between them. Acknowledging one's role in relationship dynamics is essential for lasting change and growth.

4. Lack of Hope for Relationship Improvement:
In moments of despair, it's easy to lose sight of hope. John decides to stop attending therapy sessions after several sessions, or he is suddenly too busy at work to attend sessions or come on time, or he just does not trust neither therapy, nor Sarah, nor their future together, so why try. Success in therapy can be predicted by two partners giving hope in the process. Sarah and John attend sessions reluctantly, showing up only to appease the therapist or to tick off that they are doing what is necessary, to later give an account to their family or friends - sure, we tried therapy - without actually being committed to the process. Their underlying belief that their marriage is doomed hampers any genuine progress. Even in the face of difficulties, maintaining a glimmer of hope is essential and unremitting pessimism can be considered a form of resistance. In cases where separation seems inevitable, there are still ways to part respectfully and amicably and continue productive communication after separation, which is indispensable when children are involved. Co-parenting and fostering an amicable post-relationship dynamic can preserve a sense of continuity for both adults and children.

In conclusion, when does couples therapy fail to work? It is often when unconscious resistance occurs and remains unaddressed. Recognizing and confronting these resistances is a critical step in the journey toward relationship revitalization. In couples therapy, it is through empathy, communication, and self-awareness that couples can begin to break down these barriers, allowing for genuine progress and the potential for a healthier, more harmonious partnership.
Acknowledging Disagreements. A Healthy Way to Navigate Relationship Arguments with Empathy
Let's talk about something that pretty much every couple deals with - arguments. Yes, they're part of being in a relationship. So, here's a little something to help you navigate those tough and emotional moments.

When things get tense, it's easy to get all caught up in defending our own stance, right? We want to be heard, and we want to be right. But it's crucial to also listen and understand where your partner is coming from.

Instead of jumping straight into making your case, take a moment to validate your partner's feelings and thoughts. For instance, let's take a classic holiday debate. You want to go visit the family and your partner wants to stay home, either alone or together with you. Before you advocate for your plan to visit family, try acknowledging WHY your partner doesn't want to go. Maybe they are exhausted from work, maybe the last time you visited family it caused a quarrel, or maybe your partner is angry at you for something else and this is their way to get back at you. No matter the reason, really try to see things from their perspective and acknowledge it verbally. Say out loud to your partner what you've just heard from them before you voice your disagreement.

This little shift can make a huge difference in communication within a relationship. It shows that you care about what your partner thinks and feels and that you've heard them and heard correctly, even if you don't see eye to eye. I would say that acknowledging a partner's reasonings is the first step before challenging and countering it in the argument.

By taking the time to truly hear each other out and repeat what you've heard, you're creating a space for open, honest communication. This kind of approach can help you avoid those hurtful arguments that can linger and damage your bond.

So next time you find yourselves in a disagreement, try to acknowledge and understand your partner's side, and then share yours. Relationships are all about building a long-term bridge through understanding and respect, and acknowledging your partner's point of view can be a game changer for fostering empathy and building a stronger connection between you.

"The Invisible Child". How to Improve the Atmosphere Within a Relationship
I'll start off with asking the obvious - how many people are actually in a couple? The answer seems obvious and we are used to thinking that there are two people in any couple. However I would suggest to look at the couples dynamics as if there are not 2 but 3 individuals there.

As we know from group therapy or by analyzing any group, a group (and a couple) is more than the sum of two or more people in it. Let me give you an example. When two people play a sport and enjoy it together, the enjoyment becomes an additional participant in their experience and in their group. If there is an audience watching them - said audience becomes the fourth participant: 1-2) two people, 3) the enjoyment, 4) the audience. If the audience enjoys the game, their enjoyment becomes the fourth participant. If the team and the audience come for a beer together after the game, the celebration becomes an additional participant, already the sixth. So, here we see that when two people get together, they create something more that just them two being present, and it is especially true with regards to a couple in a romantic relationship.

Let's take a closer look at this additional thing that the couple has created. This thing is a shared value, from which both partners benefit and the value is totally dependent on both parties creating it. This shared value can come in a variety of forms, such as love, mutual support, sex, intimacy. It can be the common living space, travelling together, or cooking delicious meals in the kitchen. You can continue this set of examples, it is always something that the couple continually creates together - either emotional, sensual or physical. This third constituent - shared value, shared space, becomes a separate and additional entity to the couple and it also brings a meaning to the couples life. So the amount of constituents in the couple is not 2, it is actually 3 and the third component "the Invisible Child" that you as a couple create, becomes critical when the couple starts to experience problems. Let's call it "The Invisible Child".

I would even go that far to contend that the shared space becomes a couple's first child. Taking care of the shared space, of this "Invisible Child" is actually the first indicator on how the couple is capable of parenting the real child or children. And just like a real child requires nourishment and care, the couples' space requires exactly the same things to thrive.

The couple has a great time and shows satisfaction from the relationship when they take good care of this "child of theirs". They both invest something in this shared space. They give it their love, their time, and their attention, thus benefiting from this shared space, and every day they nourish this entity, making it pleasant for each of themselves. Each of them makes an effort to improve this space and they appreciate it when the other side does the same. Preserving the couple's space requires cooperation, mutuality and doing things in turn.

When a couple disagrees, they make an unconscious attempt to break and sacrifice this space, this "Invisible Child". When we feel angry toward anyone, especially our partner, we do not want to help them feel good. On the opposite - we want them to feel as bad as we do. This is because we hope that by them experiencing the same emotions as us and feeling as miserable as we do in this very moment of anger, they might empathize with us and see things from our perspective. So, when the partners are unhappy about each other's behavior they stop taking care of this couple's space and they make it less pleasant for each other. Many common activities cease, communication and dialogue also come to a halt. This can result in both partners either shutting down, creating an unpleasant and threatening silence between them, or withdrawing from the space altogether, leaving "The Invisible Child" uncared for.

Another thing that the couple does is abandoning the couples space, "the Invisible child". One of the partners may start to withdraw from shared activities and responsibilities, such as grocery shopping, cooking, or running errands. Obviously, it leaves the other partner frustrated and unhappy, having to do twice the amount of work. That, in turn, will lead to anger and dissatisfaction eventually causing the other partner to withdraw and abandon the shared space as well.

The couple may also use their shared space for revenge by intentionally creating a toxic atmosphere when angry or frustrated. The premise behind it is "I'll poison the air you breathe and even though I breathe it too. Seeing you feel bad makes me feel better because I feel revenged". Toxic atmosphere includes being intentionally inconsiderate towards the partner, for example making noise in the kitchen at night, inviting guests which the other party doesn't welcome, not following the previously accepted house rules, disturbing the partner state of calmness so on.

What do I want to say with this article?

Imagine that your relationship is not just between the two of you, but also includes "The Invisible Child" which goes by the name of Couples Space. You nourish this child together and the better you take care of him or her, the better your relationship as a couple will be.

Here I will give you a little exercise that might help you and your partner strengthen your relationship. Close your eyes and visualize your couple's space. Try to imagine it in as many details as possible and focus on them. Don't rush it, take your time so that you see it from all sides: pay attention to its shape if it has one, its colors, what it's made of. It can be a real object that comes to your mind or it can be some abstract object. Then, take a moment to draw it out. After that, ask your partner to do the same exercise and compare your drawings. Discuss: what are the same or similar things in how you both imagine this space? In what are they different? Can you put some time aside to discuss these differences and draw some conclusion that may be relevant to your couple's current situation? It could be a great point of dialogue and to have a dialogue is always good for a couple as it enhances the quality of the shared space.

That's it for today, I hope you found this useful. Please feel free to contact me should you need any help or additional info.
4 Dos in a Relationship According to John Gottman
The psychologist John Gottman identified 4 dos for a relationship to succeed, as well as 4 don'ts that can ruin a relationship. Let's start with four Dos. According to John Gottman the following things should be actively pursued in relationships:

1. Safety. This includes both physical and emotional safety. If you don't feel safe in your relationship, you're not building a relationship, you're rather trying to survive. Even though a relationship implies work and commitment, it's not all about that it should be hard all the time. When you're in a relationship, you don't have to wear yourself down. You don't need to carry your cross constantly asking yourself "Is this difficult-to-get-along person my karmic lesson or my destiny?", "What if I should stick to them no matter what?". You also don't need to nurture your partner paying the price with your time, health or happiness. Relationships should make us feel good and happy! Let a sense of safety be the most fundamental part of your happiness. No happiness in a relationship is possible without a feeling of safety. Safety is a basis for relaxation.

2. Communication. Communication is the key to a healthy relationship. Whether we are talking or listening, we are communicating with our partners all the time. Listening is more important in communication than talking. That's why the old Jewish proverb says that we have two ears and one mouth to listen twice as much as to talk. When we listen verbally and non-verbally - paying attention to the partner's body language, their posture, facial expression - we start to really hear them and understand them better and suddenly many things start making sense. Communication is the number one skill in a relationship, and listening plays the most vital role in it. By listening we build trust, and when we do our partners are more likely to share their feelings and concerns with us, and are more likely to be supportive of us as well.

3. Respect. No relationships are possible without respect. Therefore, it's so important to catch the moment when you start losing respect for your partner, or they start losing respect for you. We shouldn't pretend that we don't see the elephant in the room if it's there. If you feel that you're losing respect, go back to point 2 and start communicating. Speaking directly and addressing the issue in question is the name of the game: "Why do we lose respect for each other? What is happening between the two of us? When did it start and how can we fix it, together". All these questions can and should be addressed between the partners. it's also important to mention that, when we lose respect for our partners, the sexual aspect of a relationship also goes away.

4. Trust. Trust is a major ingredient in any relationship. The extent to which you trust your partner immediately determines the measure of success in your future relationship even before you start building it actively. Granted, it is hard to build a relationship if you don't trust yourself in choosing a partner or are anxious that they may betray you. Anxiety always leads to worse possible outcomes, because by fearing things we materialize them. If you want to build a strong relationship, start by trusting yourself not only in the relationship, but in general. Do what's best for you, rely on your intuition and life experience, and don't be afraid to make independent choices. Relying on your judgment, intuition, and feelings is a skill that can be developed. Once you develop this skill you become less afraid to trust your partner and start to trust them more.

When going through each stage of building and maintaining a relationship, check with the above four points and make sure that they are there.
4 Don'ts in a Relationship According to John Gottman
In the previous post we talked about the 4 main dos according to John Gottman. Now, let's talk about his main 4 don'ts. According to him these are behavioral patterns that will inevitable ruin any relationship at any stage.

1. Criticism.

In one research the family psychologists concluded that as children, we get only 1 YES out of 9 NO's from the adults. This sets the stage for a pattern of criticism and blame in our later lives and projects itself to our relationships as well. If we don't control ourselves consciously, we tend to resort to criticism automatically. It's easy to fall into the trap of criticism and blame, they are easy ways to control our own emotions. When we criticize someone, we feel powerful. When we blame someone, we feel safe because all the guilt is on the other person. When we criticize someone, we can start to feel better but this feeling is only temporary. Criticism also leads to anger and uncontrolled anger undermines the communication and breaks trust. Is there anything we can do about it? Yes, we can identify this wicked temptation and not to always follow it.

2. Defensiveness

Defensiveness is often our go-to response when someone challenges our boundaries. So, instead of communicating, we turn to a brawl and snap at the offenders. The defense is the opposite of communication, especially when it comes to an intimate and safe shared environment. Instead of opening up and sharing, we close up and behave aggressively. When one partner starts defending him/herself, another one starts attacking them. When both partners start defending themselves, intimacy and trust disappear from a relationship. Sarcasm, which isn't an innocuous joke but a desire to hurt someone's feelings while appearing innocent, is one of the most common methods of defending ourselves. When we use sarcasm, we're actually communicating that we don't care about the other person's feelings and we're not interested in engaging in a dialogue. This type of defensive communication creates distance and inhibits the exchange of ideas.

When both partners start defending themselves, the result is a communication stalemate. This is never a healthy environment for a relationship and eventually it will break down. Intimacy and trust disappear, and the defensive spiral continues. If you find yourself engaged in a communication battle with your partner, try to take a step back and assess the situation. If you can't resolve the issue, it might be time to seek outside help. A therapist can help you to open up and share vulnerably, which is the foundation of a healthy relationship.

3. Contempt.

Contempt is the opposite of respect. The feeling of contempt consists of the feelings of anger and disgust, which are very powerful feelings. The former makes us bottle up and attack, the latter makes us humiliate our partner, even if we don't feel that we do so. The non-verbal language betrays it all. When one partner places him/herself above the other and lets the contempt take over them, the only place in a relationship left for the other partner is to remain below and obediently take anger and disgust. The relationship then reminds the military structure where the one above gives orders (and is genuinely annoyed when regulations are violated), and the other one is expected to fulfill them. Granted, that they don't fulfill them because they aren't a soldier and a relationship is not the army. Thus there can be established the dangerous roles of a Persecutor and a Victim.

4. Stonewalling.

Avoidance and stonewalling are two words that often go hand-in-hand in a relationship and they can slowly but surely damage it. Avoidance happens when one partner says that it's not them facing some problem, it's only their partner. They refuse to see and address any issues and problems. They expect them to just magically disappear. Avoidance of unpleasant topics or unpleasant relationship dynamics causes a distance and gradual disappearance from the life of a person with whom we could build a healthy relationship. How to can stonewalling be addressed? Share your feelings with the "I" language. I feel, I want to talk, I need. Thus, we take responsibilities for our own needs. Try not to ignore uncomfortable subjects. Yes, it may feel awkward to talk about some things and we rather not to, but if ignored these issues will gradually snowball into a much bigger problem. Give yourself some space and time to be avoidant but after that get back to the relationship space and talk about what's wrong. Keeping the right distance without disappearing from the relationship completely and without merging into the partner and losing yourself is a genuine form of art that may not come easily but it surely can be developed with a little bravery.

5 Signs that your Relationship is in Danger
Strong relationships is a blessing and those who are lucky to upkeep it hold one of the most significant asset in lives. However, there are some alarming signs that your relationship might be in danger, and it is time to do something about it. Below are five signs that might indicate that your relationship is in danger and it is time to do something about it.

1. Losing interest in each other

Interest is an essential building block of any relationship. We take interest in the significant other, and that's what keeps us motivated to share life with the other person. New relationships are bright because you do not know much about your partner and are eager to learn more about them. But, as you start to know your partner the belly-tingling unpredictability ends and as their person becomes predictable, we may take less interest in them, expecting nothing to surprise us or excite us any longer. It does not happen at once. Instead, it results from a series of actions, including one not valuing your partner (or them not valuing you), not getting what you expect from your partner, and not spending quality time together.
You may not even pay attention as you have grown apart if there is someone else in your relationship with whom you share time and your couple-space, such a a child, friends or family members living together with you. Thus, your emotional intimacy might have shifted from your partner to that third person(s). And only when this third person is gone (like child going to college and leaving home), only then you realize that you do not hold interest in your partner.

2. Boredom in the relationship

In a healthy relationship, both partners feel comfortable when they are around each other. They can talk openly to each other, feel each other and plan something together. Once you start avoiding each other and get bored in each other's presence, it is a red flag for your relationship. Your talks become boring and are dedicated to the most mundane home-related issues: who did what and when. There are no common topics that excite you, and as time goes by you prefer to spend more time in silence in the same room or to be alone. Sometimes you feel that you have to say something to your partner, or even want to say something, but you are no longer free to express your feelings. Boredom in a relationship usually indicates that it hides other emotions, such as repressed anger, which shows that there are some emotionally charged issues you haven't worked through.

3. No physical intimacy

Sex is not a relationship by itself, but it is an integral part of a healthy relationship. It is more than an act of mere pleasure; it's the ability to feel close to a person you love, connected and comfortable. But then there comes this time, when something is constantly stopping you from making love with your partner. It may be because one of you is always too busy, too tired, or not in the mood. Or you try, but then your partner rejects you, and when they try, you reject them. At the end you just stop trying. Good sex unites partners. If your intimate life has worsened and you don't feel physical attraction toward your partner, it is a clear indicator that something OTHER than sex in this relationship is not good. You may be disappointed in your partner and the relationship, you maybe disillusioned about your future and what your partner is able to deliver, you or your partner may feel overwhelmed because of other stresses. But when the physical aspect vanishes, it takes the romantic part of a relationship with it.

4. Resentment

A good relationship improves your life and gives you a feeling of satisfaction from being together with your partner. It brings the feeling of justice and equality - you are equal and are in the boat. However, you resent relationships when you think your partner is unfair to you. Their aggressive actions might hurt your feelings, or their goals might differ from yours or they allow themselves to skip some duties leaving them only to you. You might feel that your partner criticizes you and does not respect your feelings or opinions. Or whenever you are in trouble or feel sick and you need your partner, they refuse to show support. We enter the relationship to be happy and build a fulfilling relationship. When it's not, it drains us physically, mentally, and emotionally, the dissatisfaction within us is growing and and instead of happiness a resentment builds up. When we are resentful, we can not cooperate, we can not reach agreement and we can not create and work the ground and saw the seeds of happiness together.

5. Feeling hopelessness and desperation

A healthy relationship keeps you happy, motivated, productive and relaxed at the same time. When you grow indifferent in your relationship, that means you have lost hope. You stop to care for this relationship and your partner. You do not see the future in it. Frequently it happens when communication doesn't succeed. You can not express yourself, you feel that talking is not welcome. Your partner might send signs that they are not interested in listening to you and understanding your thoughts and feelings. Usually people keep trying to mend this situation, but hopelessness and desperation grows when you are trying with no results. When hope for happy relationship is gone, when motivation is gone as well and the partners simply stop trying to improve things and they stop communicating too.
5 Types of Psychological Trauma According to Lise Bourbeau
The traumas that develop in childhood from the relationship with parents lead us to treat any future personal connection in a specific manner, so that it protects us from being harmed in the same way we have previously been. Relationships become a kind of self-preservation, with the primary purpose of not maintaining intimate touch and bringing the relationship to a state of mutual enjoyment, but rather preventing being emotionally hurt again. Lise Bourbeau identified 5 psychological traumas that may negatively define how we build our relationships.

1.Trauma of Rejection

The individual who suffered this trauma feels that he/she doesn't deserve to live. It could be a child who was rejected by a parent, such as when the pregnancy was unexpected and unwanted; when the parents or one parent desired a child of another gender; or when parents acted hostilely toward the child for some other reason. The parents must have felt that the child interfered with their lives. The family then showed to that child that he did not belong there. As a result, when the child is rejected, it makes him/her wear a "Fugitive" mask. In their relationships they tend to run away. Such a child is unsure of him/herself, feels uneasy in large groups, is constantly silent, and wants to vanish as fast as possible. People who suffered this trauma lower the bar in relationships; they tend to date someone who doesn't like them. But overall, they tend to run away from any significant relationships or genuine feelings that might accompany them. Another hallmark of fugitives is their drive for excellence in whatever they do. These people either excel at everything and prove themselves worthy of loving and living, or they tend to keep a low profile altogether, being as inconspicuous as possible.

2. Trauma of Abandonment

This kind of trauma stems from the parent not paying attention to the child: not showing care and affection. As a result, a person suffering from the trauma of abandonment feels persistent emotional hunger and seeks to "cling" to another person to satisfy this need. This leads to dependent relationships and may lead to the development of other harmful addictions later in life. A child who suffered from this trauma did not get enough positive reinforcement when it was critical, so they started to feel they could not do anything on their own, without the help of others. They now feel lost without words of approval and counsel, which they fail to find.
Because he/she lacks confidence in their talents, the most important thing for them is to have someone close whom they can trust. They are lucky if they find someone who loves them unconditionally, but often they just settle for anybody who would not abandon them, and it is usually a person with the same trauma.
Since they have not had a positive example of someone showing and working through genuine feelings, they don't know how to manage their emotions: they get upset about little matters, sob easily, or may laugh and then become sad again. Such a person is often distrustful because him/her feels they will be abandoned again sooner or later by the people they love. Loneliness terrifies them, and they might fight it with addiction or unhealthy dependency.

3. Trauma of Humiliation

When a child is being humiliated in his family and later in school and everywhere he goes, he/she may develop the trauma of humiliation. It may happen when the child is constantly subjected to insults, criticism, and harsh judgment, especially if the talk takes place in front of strangers. If the parents criticize the child, they instill guilt and shame in him/her. The child interprets their insults as if he is not good enough. Such person may then go on and develops the mask of the "Masochist." This means that the person will unconsciously seek out issues, situations, and relationships where they are humiliated all over again and suffer as they used to in childhood. Masochists frequently have good intentions and are eager to assist others; however, they sacrifice themselves and their own well-being. They make an effort to help everyone, to solve problems for them, to recommend things, and to point out the usefulness. They appear to be compassionate because they willingly participate in other people's affairs, but their actions are often driven by a fear of embarrassment in front of others and themselves. They are willing to go to any length to avoid being condemned and, instead, to be appreciated. People who wear the mask of "masochists" rarely relax and take it easy in a relationship and do not allow themselves to just love and be loved. It is difficult for them to recognize and declare their own needs.

4. Trauma of Betrayal

When a child's expectations are repeatedly not met, they may develop this trauma. Every time the parent does not follow through on his promise, favors someone else over the child or exploits the child's trust, the youngster feels betrayed. The parent never apologizes for it, and when cornered, he may turn hostile against the child. It can be the parent's promise of love and affection that never materializes, even at an early pre-verbal age. The parent may be busy all the time or loving but absent.There is a lack of communication, especially non-verbal, between the parent and the child, and the child is perplexed, having the loving figure near but not feeling their love and warmth. At a critical age when parents are the only link to the outside world, the child believes he or she cannot trust their parents with anything and must do everything themselves. The child stops trusting and develops the mask of "Control". The child relies only on him/herself and believes that if he/she can control everything, it will protect him/her from being betrayed. These people frequently develop an anxious personality, anticipating bad things in order to avoid them and, thus, another betrayal in their lives. They rarely listen to others and do what they want, yet they may expect others to rigidly follow their instructions.

5. Trauma of Injustice

A child may develop the trauma of injustice if he is not treated fairly by his/her parents. He could be treated harshly for his mistakes, and his accomplishments were never good enough in the eyes of his parents. Such a child is not recognized for who he is, but rather for who he may become one day. The child subsequently develops the mask of "Rigidity" and is prone to perfectionism. He/she believes that the quality of feelings and love connection can be substituted with the quantity of things they they achieve. They expect a lot from themselves, and anything less than perfect is unacceptable to them. Such people are not sensitive towards themselves, they value actions and results above feelings. People who suffered from the trauma of injustice are seeking justice as a universal equalizer. They rely on a rigid concept of how things should be and how the world is made, and they are driven by it. Therefore, they might be prone to judging others. They find it difficult to feel satisfied, even though their achievements are often high.

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What is Psychoanalytic Therapy?

Psychoanalysis was founded by Sigmund Freud around the turn of the 20th century, and it became the first method of the talking therapies. It is still remarkably relevant, as it lays the basis for any psychodynamic therapy (i.e., those analyzing the "here and now"). Since its foundation, it has integrated more modern teaching as well as developed with time. The basis of the analysis has been the client's exploring him/herself by talking, that is, by providing the unconscious material in a verbal form. Then you and your therapist will explore it together. The method helps address inner conflicts, relationship issues, negative emotions and helps develop stronger mental capacities in order to adapt to the challenges of life.

Classic vs Modern

The difference between classic psychoanalysis and modern psychoanalytic therapy is that meetings take place less frequently. Early psychoanalytic patients went to get help for up to 5 sessions a week. Nowadays, we meet once or twice a week, depending on your needs. Early psychoanalytic patients lay on a couch with their backs turned to the analyst. Nowadays, we usually meet face-to-face and talk online while both of us sit. Although, you may choose to lay down, it's up to you.

Free associations

Free associations is a way of examining the unconscious in which you as the client talk freely without censoring yourself. It helps in both defining what is relevant for a specific session and identifying psychological defenses that prevent you from speaking freely and exploring what is significant for you here and now. Some examples of such defenses are rationalization, intellectualization, repression, splitting and dissociating. This method has many has numerous variations: you may free-associate by painting, you can talk what comes to mind with closed eyes, you can utilize toys, figurines, or white-board magnets. The essential premise has remained the same since it was introduced to the psychotherapeutic world.


Analysis and interpretation are two methods of dealing with what the client is presenting. The presence of a therapist is crucial when addressing psychological issues we cannot hear or evaluate our nonverbal language because we simply do not notice it. TThe therapist assists you in analyzing what you truly want to express, what nonverbal signals you are giving, and what is being disguised, which you may discuss throughout the session. Using analysis, we work on identifying your inner conflicts and blocks and devise solutions to resolve or integrate them.

Limited number of sessions or open-ended therapy?

It is up to the client to decide when therapy should end. The point at which treatment terminates is usually a significant element of the therapy itself, and as such, it may and should be discussed with the therapist as therapy progresses. Treatment may begin with 3–5 preliminary sessions during which you determine whether to continue or not. If the answer is yes, the next stage is open-ended therapy for as long as you feel you need it. Working in open-ended format has numerous advantages, especially when working with anxiety, and it gives you as the client greater control over the process.

The silent parts

As a part of the therapeutic process we may talk about when you want or feel the need to be silent and what's underlying it. It can sometimes signal resistance to a potential change. We may talk about the "silent feelings" that accompany therapy, such as fear, anxiety, anger but also the positive parts: joy, satisfaction and expectations for the future. We may also discuss your dreams. It is recommended that you write them down since the unconscious communicates with us via dreams. The analysis of non-verbal language is important in therapy. It is often not just what you say, but also how you say it, since it conveys your true feelings. Your therapist assists you in seeing and analyzing your nonverbal manifestations, as well as paying attention to what is happening in your body as a reaction to what is happening in your mind.

Therapy and therapist dependency

Therapy can assist you in making autonomous decisions and taking full charge of your life. That is why a psychologist/therapist would not respond directly to your inquiries about what you should or should not do. He/she would ask you to explore the question jointly so that you could find your best answer. A sense of independence is one of the beneficial results of counseling/therapy. When you go to therapy, you learn to be free and make independent decisions in your life, among other things. It also fosters responsibility. During treatment, you may develop "positive dependence," which implies that you construct a connection with the therapist in order to have an additional resource in your life in the form of therapy. You, as a client, determine when you want to leave therapy, thus control over this dependence is also in your hands.

Therapy Vs Coaching

In therapy we talk about the here and now. Coaching, on the other hand, focuses on future objectives and plans, as well as how to achieve them. Therapy concentrates on how you live in the present, what has led to it in the past, whether you are happy now and what can be changed in order for you to become a happier and more fulfilled person person. The way you experience the here and now determines the quality of your life. In regular therapy sessions, this information comes out in the form of feelings, expectations, transferential relationships between you and the therapist, memories, fantasies, dreams, and manifestations of psychological defenses. Coaching allows you to come when you have a particular goal, objective, or question, whereas therapy allows you to come regularly even if you do not know what issue to address at a specific session. In that case, you talk about whatever comes to mind. The therapeutic process and its regularity help you stay in touch with yourself, face challenges instead of putting them off, and address the feelings that surface during the therapeutic/counseling process.

When will you see results?

Therapy helps gradually and improves things progressively. We discuss your progress as we move along. The lack of change, if it occurs for some reason, needs to be discussed and addressed. If you start to feel worse, it is also not unheard of and it becomes the subject of discussion as well. A good and healing therapeutic process gives tangible results, and you should feel them. When it comes to therapy/counseling, one should not anticipate immediate results, and the length of treatment differs from person to person. However, relying on progress and expecting changes is a good, constructive and sensible approach.

Can you really change yourself?

Throughout our sessions we aim to comprehend your feelings and emotions. Though one can not totally eliminate unpleasant emotions, but one can learn to control them. Therapy is not about altering who you are; rather, it is about helping you become and stay whole, integrated, to value yourself and treat yourself with respect, while building fulfilling relationships with others. It is worth noting that our flaws are also our strengths. For instance, if you are overly sensitive and helpful, you may have difficulty maintaining your your boundaries. However, the benefit of the same attribute is that you may be incredibly empathic and understanding, which many others appreciate deeply.

Therapeutic boundaries

We meet at constant intervals. In this stable approach, therapy establishes a positive and reliable routine in your life. You always know when your next meeting is, when it begins, and when it finishes. It provides reassurance and confidence, and it allows you to reflect on yourself between meetings and plan what to bring to the next appointment. Boundaries are essential in therapy. After some preliminary meetings, should you require them, we follow a contract that describes, how we work, as well as our mutual rights and obligations. It simplifies and secures therapeutic work.

What should you expect from your therapist?

It is safe to assume that your therapist will show empathy, curiosity, intuition, and a desire to help you. It is also worth emphasizing that effective treatment is based on the client's drive to work on him/herself, and on their curiosity about themselves.

Have additional questions? I will be happy to respond. Contact me using the form below.

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6 Things to Try Before you Separate
Some things can be easily replaced, but relationships are unique. We build them on love, trust, and we choose this unique person and entrust them with so much about us. Together, we share the present, the past and the future. Some relationships, unfortunately, do not work out. When they don't, the partners begin to consider and even discuss divorce. In our days, separation has become the ultimate solution to relationship problems. Yet, when separation is looming, can it be prevented by a joint effort? Here are six things to try before separating or divorcing:

1. Initiating a discussion

Communication is a major key to preventing separation in a relationship. When a relationship is ending, one or both partners shut down, bottle up and lose contact, ultimately losing common ground and going their own ways. It does not matter who initiates a discussion as long as it's there. Trying to prevent separation entails communicating and discussing problems, their causes, effects and determining whether you can address them together. However, if you are the one who always comes first to apologize, takes the guilt and initiates the dialog, there might be an issue with the relationship roles. It is also something that can be discussed.

2. Transparency and candid sharing

In a relationship, sharing ideas, thoughts, feelings, opinions, goals, things that make you unhappy, natural worries and pleasures can help you avoid separation. Transparency in a relationship means both partners are at ease with each other and are open to talk with each other freely. It helps both partners reduce misunderstandings by making things clear. It helps pave the road for feeling unashamed of who you are. When a couple is considering separation, the partners may consider transparency dangerous, because it potentially provides an opportunity for manipulation and guilt-placing. When cheating is involved, transparency might also be impossible altogether. However, even separation can be carried through with respect which is facilitated by transparency.

3. Remembering why you appreciated your partner

When a couple considers separation, it's safe to assume that there has been a major loss of respect in the relationship and that its value has gone down significantly. Loss of appreciation for your partner, or their loss of appreciation for you can be a significant factor in your couple's impending separation. It might be a good time to remember why you respected and appreciated them in the first place. What was it about your connection that made your relationship valuable? What were the things that allowed you to stay in the relationship and plan for the future? Appreciation and respect go a long way in repairing a strained relationship. They should, however, be sincere, not phony as a means of expressing passive-aggressive feelings.

4. Understanding what still unites you

Separation can lead to the resolution of a couple's problem, but due to its drastic nature, it comes as either the last resort or as a result of an angry outburst. So, before separation knocks on your door delivering the news that there are more things that disunite you than unite you as a couple, it is a good time to ask: what is it that still unites us as a couple? The answer might not necessarily be: the children or the financial bonds. Perhaps you still enjoy joking with one another, trust each other, and feel comfortable around each other at times. Counting the blessings for the reasons you are together, might bring back fond memories and offer an answer to the question of whether there is a common basis for maintaining the relationship.

5. Understanding each other's perspective

Everyone has their own opinion and perspective about life and relationships. Separation usually comes from dissatisfaction with the partner's perspective or a lack of interest in hearing and grasping it. Even if separation is inevitable, your significant other's point of view is very important in order to not lose contact with them. It's fine to disagree and have your own view on different life and relationship issues. Making an effort to listen and understand what your partner thinks and considers important, on the other hand, can become a significant relationship milestone in mending the relationship.

6. Learning to argue

Almost nobody loves arguing. However, when thoughts of possible separation appear, they are frequently accompanied by arguments and quarrels. Even if there are no plans to split, a relationship entails more than one person, and hence an occasional clash of interests. A flexible and adaptive relationship is the one that can contain different conflicting interests and allow them to co-exist, at least for a while. Learning how to handle arguments in a relationship is an extremely important communicative asset. That is, not all arguments can be prevented, in fact, preventing all arguments is harmful since the underlying feelings will simply get repressed. One needs to learn to argue, without humiliating or blackmailing their partner. Handling an argument means sharing sentiments instead of taking revenge, listening to your partner's perspective, and communicating yourself clearly - what you want and what you object to.

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4 Must-Read Psychology Books for a Broad Audience
As a therapist, I am sometimes asked for book recommendations that provide valuable insights into the human mind and offer practical guidance for personal growth. In this blog post, I will share my top four favorite psychology books that cater to a broad audience. Each of these books offers unique perspectives and thought-provoking ideas. Let's dive into the descriptions of these captivating reads:

1) "50 Minutes Hour" by Robert Lindner:
In "50 Minutes Hour," Robert Lindner takes readers on a captivating journey through the world of psychoanalysis. Lindner, a renowned psychotherapist, presents a collection of case studies that delve into the depths of the human psyche. With vivid storytelling and profound insights, he provides a glimpse into the struggles, triumphs, and transformative journeys of his patients. This book offers a rich exploration of the complexities of the therapeutic process and the profound impact it can have on individuals seeking inner healing.

2) "Schopenhauer's Porcupine" by Anna Feuerbach Luepnitz:
In "Schopenhauer's Porcupine," Anna Feuerbach Luepnitz delves into the intricacies of relationships and the challenges that arise when individuals with different emotional needs come together. Drawing inspiration from philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer's analogy of human relationships resembling porcupines seeking warmth without getting hurt, Luepnitz explores the delicate balance between closeness and distance. With compassion and wisdom, she unravels the dynamics of intimacy and offers valuable insights into building healthier and more fulfilling connections.

3) "Lying on the Couch" by Irvin D. Yalom:
In "Lying on the Couch," acclaimed psychiatrist and author Irvin D. Yalom skillfully weaves together a tale of intertwining lives and complex relationships. Set within the backdrop of psychotherapy, Yalom takes readers on a captivating journey as he unravels the struggles, desires, and vulnerabilities of his characters. Through the lens of psychoanalysis, this novel offers profound insights into the human condition, love, and the search for meaning. Yalom's masterful storytelling makes this book a compelling and thought-provoking read.

4) "The Gift of Therapy" by Irvin D. Yalom:
In "The Gift of Therapy," Irvin D. Yalom shares his vast experience and wisdom as a therapist, providing invaluable guidance to both aspiring and seasoned mental health professionals. Yalom offers a collection of his most insightful and transformative therapeutic techniques, illuminating the power of authentic connection and creating a safe space for healing. This book serves as a practical guide for therapists, while also offering profound insights into the human condition for readers interested in psychology and personal growth.

From exploring the complexities of psychoanalysis to unraveling the dynamics of relationships, these reads provide thought-provoking perspectives on the human mind and its experiences. Whether you are a mental health professional or simply interested in psychology, these books will expand your knowledge and stimulate your curiosity about the intricacies of the human psyche. So, grab a copy, immerse yourself in these fascinating reads, and I hope you enjoy your embarkment on a journey of self-discovery and understanding.

Greetings! My name is Boris Herzberg and I am a psychoanalytic therapist, relationship consultant and ICF coach working online
I help individuals and couples come to terms with their relationship to self and each other and explore ways to move towards a new way of living or being.

I work in a psychoanalytic paradigm but I would describe my therapeutic and consulting approach as adaptive, because I see each person as a unique being and thus work in a holistic way - with people, not with problems.

Psychoanalyst (East-European Institute for Psychoanalysis), St-Petersburg, Russia
Life-coach (MCI - Master Coach, Isrаel)
Psychologist (Moscow Institute of Group Therapy and Supervision)

11 years of counselling and coaching

Experience with more than 1700 clients in personal sessions and groups (+600 in educational formats)

Author of the book "The path to yourself. Practical guide to self-development". Contributing blogger for Psychology Today

Lecturer for self-actualization, relationship building, self-confidence strengthening and overcoming emotional crises (more than 60 offline and online events)

Born in 1980, have lived in different countries, married, loving father of 3 amazing kids and humble cohabitant to 2 wayward cats

Contact me for any questions or consultation
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