Joanna (name changed) is a thin, reasonably attractive 41-year-old female who was brought to International Psychology Centre by her group of close friends, stating that she was facing marital issues, household violence, as well as being generally unhappy.
Joanna was introduced to her husband shortly after she moved to KL, and they were married after a brief but intense courtship of 3 months. This intensity waned almost immediately after the marriage ceremony, and they settled into a routine marked neither by contentment nor by obvious problems. Interactions were minimal and there was seldom conflict. Over the years they have three children aged 11, 8 and 6.
As years passed, Joanna’s husband, who is now a project manager for a multinational manufacturing company, spends a lot of time travelling. When he is home, he is no longer willing to listen to Joanna. However, the problem is not as apparent then, since Joanna tries to rationalize by saying that her husband is merely stressed out, and she should give him the space he needs. However, the condition of their marriage deteriorates when her husband starts getting abusive in his speech and even actions where he would slam the door and come out with a list of things she should be doing. More recently, Joanna had experienced the episodes of anxiety and depression more consistently when her husband was around. Coupled with the responsibilities to manage the household and take care of her three children, Joanna was emotionally, intellectually, and physically drained to the point where she could do little more than meet her own basic needs.
Seeing her struggles, Joanna’s friends decided to help her out. They heard of Relate, The Centre for Couple Therapy, International Psychology Centre. In addition to individual psychotherapy, there are also couple and sex therapy, as well as family therapy. Over the course of a few weeks, Joanna came in for more sessions where she was taught how to communicate more effectively with her husband. For example, instead of avoiding her husband, Joanna was taught to mirror and empathize with her husband. She was also taught to address her negative emotions through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Emotion-Focused Therapy. During these sessions, Joanna was coached to better identify and flexibly manage her emotions. She also learnt how to attend to her children’s needs more effectively and facilitate them to cope in difficult situations. Joanna’s husband was invited to join her for Couple Therapy as well whereby the psychologist and couple therapist was able to help them to better understand and talk to each other.
Biochemical laboratory tests, such as the Neurotransmitter test was also recommended to investigate any biochemical cause of Joanna’s constant mood of anxiety and depression. It is evident that a lack of serotonin, which is one of the brain neurotransmitter or brain chemical, was one of the causal factors for depression. Based on these results, a programme of psycho-nutritional supplements can then be recommended along with psychotherapy sessions that will help Joanna boost her neurotransmitter without any side effect and improve her relationship with her husband.
In a matter of weeks, Joanna had made considerable gains in these important areas: First, Joanna and her husband were able to communicate more effectively with one another. Second, Joanna and her husband were able to better support each other emotionally. Most importantly, both of them are now able to live life vitally and adaptively, and enjoy better relationships with themselves and the people around them.
This article is contributed by the team of Psychologists at Relate, The Centre for Couple Therapy, International Psychology Centre.
For psychological assessment and intervention, please contact Relate, The Centre for Couple Therapy, International Psychology Centre.
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