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Communication

Communication is probably the single most common complaint for couples – and the most common prescription, too. Maybe you just need to talk more?

Hey, we all know it’s not that simple!

Many people do not have a problem saying what’s on their mind, or even taking turns talking. They usually find it more difficult to listen to each other, though!

Ironically, the more important the topic, the more easily communication breaks down. Unfortunately, when it matters most, we don’t speak in a way we can be heard, but to press our point. We don’t hear, but wait as we form our defense or counterpoint. We don’t connect at all when we feel it is risky or pointless.

Yes, these common patterns of interaction are completely normal – but that doesn’t mean you can’t have better! There are ways to be heard by your partner, and get them to share themselves respectfully with you too.

modern phones in reciprocal communication

CoupleSolutions can help you restore and improve your relationship with not just more, but better communication.

Our service is not about endless unnecessary rehashing, or a referee judging who is right and blaming who is wrong.

We offer guidance and support in using special ways to dialog that are honest and heartfelt for you, yet also show care and regard for your partner. With practice, even difficult issues can be addressed calmly and kindly. You will be amazed at how those conversations can then actually become connecting and bonding through an exchange of mutual vulnerability and caring.

It is simple, though it’s not easy at first. In fact, because it’s not instinctive, most people will never figure it out or get there on their own.

Building these practical and empowering skills are only a few of the many ways CoupleSolutions can help you to connect with each other and feel the love once more.

Conflict

Even good people who truly love each other will differ somewhat in their approaches to chores / money / work / relatives / kids / sex / life. While some matters are more concerning than others, it’s often not the differences themselves, but the ways we deal with them that harm us.

Each of us has hot buttons that are wired to our deeper values and vulnerabilities. Yet, it’s rare that each of us can reliably recognize, acknowledge, and cope with our own sensitivities, never mind those of our partner!

When we feel a tender spot carelessly prodded, automatic reflexes of hurt, frustration, resentment, or anger can make us instantly react defensively, with denial, excuses, shutting down, storming out – or aggressively, with blame, counter-accusations, putdowns, and so on.

“Fight or flight” responses are quite natural, but unfortunately, the back-and-forth reactions escalate the initial battle, causing more damage. Very quickly, cycles of injury cause us to establish protective emotional habits. We shelter and entrench behind walls of mistrust and resentment.

If either of you feels unsafe or uncared for, it’s understandable that you won’t want to lower your defences. Breaking a sequence of mutual reactivity can be so tough without professional help.

couple grasping hands on either side of wallAt CoupleSolutions, we know such patterns very well. We will help you both to lay down verbal weapons and shed emotional armor. Together, we will carefully deconstruct the walls so that both of you can be safely seen, heard, and felt.

We give you coaching, encouragement, and practice in raising concerns, showing empathy, tolerating differences, solving problems, making repairs, and setting issues aside. You’ll even find yourself using these skills when dealing with others than your mate!

More than just learning to live with your partner, this ability reinforces love-enhancing protection around rather than between the two of you. You will recall how wonderful it feels when you and your mate are on the same side!

Losing the Love

Do you still love your partner, but feel less “in love”? Is the honeymoon long over?

A cynic might say that, by marrying or otherwise committing, you have both officially chosen to make the best of what you have.

But are you really doing that?

After we’ve achieved a major life goal in winning or bedding or wedding our partner, we tend to start taking the resulting relationship for granted. Getting wrapped up in work or other stresses can be very distracting.

withered flowers on cracked mud, smallLike planting a flower and forgetting to water and fertilize the roots, we neglect to nurture and feed our experience of each other.

Cultivating the relationship might sound like an unpleasant chore – unless you become a gardener who enjoys it.

CoupleSolutions helps you breed positive patterns of interaction, foster your relational talents, and form new habits of connection. It’s not just about clearing the weeds, but revitalizing with some attention and showering with a bit of appreciation.

For example, we will help you identify and use your partner’s particular range of “love languages”, so you can take delight and pride in your ability to please and satisfy each other. (Think of these as your partner’s personal care and growth instructions.)seedling in two pairs of hands

Yet, when things are more complicated (and they usually are), we can help carefully tend to other droughts too.

Sex is often the first flower to be noticed as wilting. That may be just from benign neglect, but it could also be the emotional ground between you, specific physical or behavioral tangles, or issues rooted in personal history. Get our sensitive and discrete help to recreate this important bond.

Don’t settle for a relationship that is just surviving instead of flourishing! Contact us, and begin to rediscover the romance, passion, and fun. It is worth it!

Everyone Else

Is everything fine? Or it would be, if your partner would just leave it alone?

What do they even want from you? And now they want to let a stranger also dump on you?

So you’re not the worst couple out there. But should you really wait until you are?

couple looking under smoking hood, small

Imagine if you ignored your car’s oil warning light year after year! That’s right: if there is a sign of trouble in your relationship, denying it is only making it worse.

In fact, after too many years of grinding strife (or preventive silence), the risk might not be that you’ll split up. It might be that you won’t. You could have too much invested to junk it, but find yourselves stuck with each other on a long and lonely road.

You are both good, smart, and capable people… so why is your relationship sputtering?

You’ve already tried to do it yourself. You beg your partner to “just be reasonable”. You keep your distance to keep the peace. Or you do things that don’t help, like turning a screw in the wrong direction. When it doesn’t work, you give up hope – or let loose your frustration, and it gets worse!

It seems like it should be straightforward, but frankly, modern relationships can be complex. The expectations of today’s dual-income nuclear-family soul-mates are quite different from those of the past thousand generations. It’s just smart to get help from a pro.No Dumping road sign

At CoupleSolutions, we aren’t going to dump on you – or watch you dump on each other. We’ll give you the proper tools, and you can see how well they work.

True, it takes a bit of courage to dare to want more, and go for it. We respect and admire that.

Come and see if we can’t make things better for the two of you.

Or, see you in a few more years?

Betrayal

Of the many forms of betrayal, sexual or emotional infidelity can be the most devastating.

As a betrayed partner, even if you aren’t abandoned, you may suffer deep wounds to self-esteem, hope, security, trust, and respect for your partner. We provide particular care for you to find safety and strength, and take stock of your shattered world.

If your betrayal has been discovered, you are likely also distressed: feeling guilt or shame for hurting your partner, but also mourning your own losses, and anxious about your future. While your partner may say that you deserve your pain, you too can use our help to hold yourself together.

At CoupleSolutions, we use a sequenced protocol to minimize further harm, comprehend how this could happen, and develop and implement your plans toward healing or other best resolution.forked path in woods

Though people do remain accountable for their choices, with our guidance both of you can benefit by examining the background to this breach. As you get closer to closure and future growth, each of you can then better consider if or how your relationship could continue.

Think of your initial sense of alarm as a wake-up call.

If you’ve been cheated on, you may wonder if you need to live this nightmare through to a disastrous conclusion – or if you might be able to open your eyes to see what has really been happening, and what is really possible.

If you’ve been involved with another, you may want to ask yourself if you have been dreaming a fantasy that can’t be sustained – or how you might finally realize the enduring satisfaction that you have been longing for.

With time, many relationships can and do survive betrayal. With proper help, many get better than ever. CoupleSolutions can help you develop a new relationship: one with each other, that is respectful, trustworthy, rewarding, and worthwhile.

Individual

CoupleSolutions also helps others than couples! Whatever your life stage or partnership status, a focus on yourself as an individual can help you clarify relationship issues.

You may be single, looking, or dating. We can help you explore your desires and fears, move past your past, gain confidence, and optimize your opportunities and your presentation.

You may feel torn between possibilities and want to privately consult about progressing, managing, or ending your relationship. We can help you understand your feelings, weigh your options, and move toward your goals. If you wish, we can help you carefully engage with your partner in a way that remains in your interest.

You may be attempting to make polyamory or consensual non-monogamy work for you and others. We can help you, singly or in a couple or group, to navigate delicate situations and negotiate healthy and realistic boundaries.

CoupleSolutions helps you to grasp and sort through your thoughts and emotions without judgment or outside influence. Beyond a compassionate ear, we can employ expert techniques for you to gain insight and perspective. We can then help you create and carry out action plans when ready.

couple painting a futureIf one of you is unsure about proceeding with couples therapy, I offer Couple Decisioning, for a doubtful partner to privately explore their uncertainty, while we give the leaning-in partner their best hope for staying together.

However, if your partner is unwilling to participate, there are still ways for you alone to make a difference. Any relationship is a system in which two people continuously produce reactions in each other. This means, by working on yourself, you benefit by developing personally, but your changes can also powerfully influence your partner’s attitude and behavior for the better.

When working through relationship matters, whether with or without others, CoupleSolutions is here for you.

Transitions

It’s over. What happened? And what now?

Whenever an intimate relationship ends – whether from the death of a partner, or the death of a partnership through divorce, separation, or breakup – there will be other remnants among the debris of grief.

You may be left with a void in your spirit, and yet swirling in a vortex of emotions that you can’t resolve or make sense of. You may be longing and lonely, yet also angry, or guilty.

You may feel overwhelmed by the burdens of the present, the sudden new challenges as well as ongoing ones.

broken heart cookie and fortune cookie, smallYou may have questions or doubts about your own readiness or worthiness to have a new relationship, be unsure or disheartened about how to find or foster it, or even worried about repeating past mistakes.

CoupleSolutions can support you as an individual or couple during this troubled time, without the impatience or bias of family or friends. We are ready to listen and comfort, help you work through your feelings, lend perspective, find the inner resources needed, and guide you through your transition into the next stage of your life.

When a couple decides to part intentionally, even if there is no alimony, there may be acrimony. Sadly, our culture has no traditions to help handle the myriad emotions of parting in a way that’s healthy and beneficial.

At CoupleSolutions, while we don’t perform mediation or settle disputes directly, we can help process the feelings that block progress. We can help parting partners explore the lessons to be learned, resolve remaining hurts, work toward forgiveness, express gratitude as well as regrets, and have hope for a cooperative future. We can even organize a separation ceremony for the two of you to mark this significant life moment, and add to your peace and closure.

Premarital

Ah, you have chosen to walk this tightrope together? Congratulations!

But have you had your pre-marital or early relationship counselling?

There is simply no better commitment to ongoing love.

More helpful than the pot-holders, more vital than the first-aid kit, wiser than the extended warranty, these few hours will be the safety net beneath you two for all the years to come.

A more worthwhile investment than a university fund, it promises your future children the invaluable experience of witnessing a couple do it right. Face it: ready or not, you will be their models of how to be married.

Enlightened people realize that life is not always smooth, that love does not conquer all. The differences between loving partners are inevitable, but the pain and trouble are often so unnecessary.

It has been said that, when choosing your partner, you are in effect choosing the set of difficulties you will be dealing with for the rest of your life.

So do you know what to do when they come up?

CoupleConnect logoMaybe you two haven’t felt shaken by much yet, but want to ensure your relationship proceeds on the best footing. Our CoupleConnect program prepares you to keep your balance with matters that can trip up the best of us.

Or, if you already have some “issues”, that’s perfect too! In CoupleConnect, we coach you to work safely with current or future concerns, even stumble gracefully, and bounce back.

It is ironic that the tricky steps of committed relationships appear to be pitfalls, but they are also opportunities for greater intimacy. You see, when you allow your partner to truly know you, even your foibles, and feel sure they can and will hold you steady, you’ll know you are genuinely loved.

Give this gift to each other. Contact us, and learn how to have, and to hold… for better!

(Show Video Transcript)

For any of us in the heat of a disagreement, or the trenches of a long-standing dispute, it can be very tough to have less negativity – let alone more positivity. Sometimes it just seems impossible!

At CoupleSolutions, I work to help you understand the problems, consider your choices, set your course of interaction, and, as much as anyone can, direct the destiny of your own relationship.

A big promise? Well, I believe in you, and I’m going to make sure you get every opportunity to succeed.

There is no shame in any couple seeking help. Rather, it’s a shame if they don’t.

You see, some couples never learn how to handle their problems, until the lawyers eventually sort through the wreckage. That is sad enough.

But many other couples just continue with their limited lives, never realizing the extra happiness and true contentment that is there for the asking. Perhaps they never saw anyone else do it, never knew it was possible, never figured it out, or never noticed the opportunity.

That could have been you.

But no longer. Now you know that it’s in your hands… if you want it.

To get started on that, give me a call.

Expertise

Hello. I’m Andre Lampa, a Master’s level counsellor, therapist, coach and consultant for intimate relationships.

I will help you discover, understand, and practice how to repair, strengthen, grow, and preserve your love, so that you can have the most fulfilling life possible. We can do so much together to give you and your partner the happiness you each deserve.

I integrate a wide variety of empirically and clinically founded methods and models established by today’s leaders in helping couples, including Dr. Ellyn Bader and Dr. Peter Pearson, Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Gottman, Dr. Sue Johnson, Esther Perel MA, Terry Real MA, Dr. Steven Stosny, Dr. William Doherty, Dr. Richard Schwartz, and many others. This overlays my graduate school training in humanist, cognitive behavioral, psychodynamic and solution-focused psychology. You can read more about my approach in my FAQ page.

Focus

I specialize in helping with intimate relationships of all sorts. Unless you contract with me as an individual client, I don’t take sides between partners because, in essence, your relationship is my client.

Unlike general counsellors, I don’t reduce my focus by also taking on individual mental health concerns like depression, anxiety, trauma, substance abuse, etc. (I am able to help when such concerns are in response to relationship problems, or are manageable background factors. However, when they are primary or significant, I may treat the relationship and refer individuals to other specialists for simultaneous care. This way, you get the best service for all your concerns.)

Services and Fees

These are my most common types of services.

  • For established relationships which you both want to improve, I offer Couple Therapy (otherwise known as marriage counselling) by packages of 28 days each. Most couples will need several consecutive packages to provide enough opportunity to feel heard, to understand what needs to change, to grow sufficiently to make that happen, and to practice it so that it becomes more natural. Package pricing gives you an expectation that time will be required, the opportunity to budget for it, and a financial incentive to do it. Click below for fees for packages.

My other services are charged not as packages but by the session, at my regular hourly rate of $120. (All figures given are in CAD for Canadian residents, with GST additional. US residents pay USD $120 per hour, and EU residents pay €120 per hour, both without taxes.)

  • When either partner is unsure or doubtful about remaining in or working on the relationship, I offer Couple Decisioning, a short-term process for the two of you to gain clarity and confidence about your choices for the future.
  • For growing relationships, I do Premarital or early relationship counselling.
  • If you are not partnered, you want to see me alone, or your partner does not want to participate, I can work with you on relationship matters as an Individual.

Please note that my fees are generally NOT covered or reimbursed by health insurance claims or government or employee plans.

Couples Therapy Standard Package
Partners work on issues and solutions in detail,
either together or one at a time
8 hours over 4 weeks = $760
Couple Decisioning
Examine the choices you each face,
and your blocks to improving the relationship
Session: 2 solos x 1 hour each = $240
Couples Therapy Intensive Package
Concentrated help for a crisis or complex situation,
either together or one at a time
Unlimited* for 4 weeks = $1440
Individual Clients
For individual clients, partnered or not.
Others may attend as Guest Participants.
Sessions @ $120 per hour
Premarital or Past Clients
For stable couples to check in or brush up.
Not for intensive couple work.
Sessions @ $120 per hour

Standard Package

CoupleSolutions offers a unique monthly pricing package: 8 hours of relationship counselling over a 28-day period, for $760 (plus GST = $798).

Choose the length and type of your sessions as you go, to make up 8 hours within 28 days, under these conditions of scheduling:

  • The 28-day period begins the day of the first completed (or missed) session.
  • Appointments are subject to pre-arrangement and availability. (The day of request is often possible, but I will usually give you several options that fall within 48 hours of your requested time.)
  • Any option given is held for your acceptance only for a limited time.
  • Weekdays or weekends, but only between the hours of 10am to 8pm.
  • Joint sessions are a minimum of 1.5 hours long.
  • Solo sessions of less than 1 hour each must be scheduled in tandem (one partner right after the other).

These are the conditions of payment and refund:

  • Payment must be made in advance, in full, by Interac e-Transfer or WISE only (no credit cards).
  • There is no deferral of unused time beyond the 28-day period. Instead, unused funds are refundable after any time used is deducted at my regular hourly rate. (For example, if after our first two-hour session, you decide not to continue or you just do not book again within the 28-day period, I would subtract 2 X $120 hourly rate = $240, and refund the difference of 760-240 = $520 plus GST.)
  • Missed sessions (you do not show, or cancel with less than 24 hours notice) count as time used against refunds.
  • This package may be suspended or terminated at any time, and the refund policy will apply.
  • Instead of a refund, you may request in writing to have the refundable amount applied to another package purchase, or to future sessions at my regular hourly rate.
  • Purchase this package as many times as you wish, with or without breaks. Most couples will need to continue therapy for several consecutive packages to get the best results.

Compared to my regular hourly rate, this package carries no financial advantage for me, and no added risk for you. If you use all 8 hours, the effective rate is 760/8 = $95 per hour. You can think of this as an automatic bulk purchase discount of over 20%. The breakeven point (no refundable amount left) would be 760/120 = 6 hours and 20 minutes of sessions. However, even if you use less, you will never pay more than my hourly rate, since the extra will be refunded without question. You need not feel compelled to use more time than you need.

Couple Decisioning

Couple therapy is not meant to be painful or difficult, but it does take some dedication and effort to face what may be some unpleasant feelings, learn some uncomfortable truths, and take some responsibility for your relationship. And to do that, it takes some hope that things can be better.

When one or the other partner is running low on that hope for whatever reason, they can lose the willpower to try to work it out. This may show as reluctance to work on the relationship, hesitation about entering counselling, or both. Yet, even though they are “leaning out”, feeling more like ending the relationship than preserving it, they may not be prepared to “pull the plug”.

Meanwhile, their partner may be “leaning-in”, showing a strong desire to continue and improve the relationship. However, even if highly motivated, they usually cannot fix things on their own, and showing their frustration about this may actually make things worse. Or, their own effort or hope may be contingent on some sign of continuing commitment from the leaning-out one.

These can be normal and justifiable positions, but they leave both partners stuck in a miserable and prolonged deadlock. Even if a couple has taken steps towards breakup as a solution, it may be largely because they lack any sense of other options.

Indeed, in cases of this ambivalence, conventional couple therapy tends to be much less effective. It would be unhelpful to tag an uncertain partner as uncooperative, to pressure them to participate in whatever is needed to improve the relationship. But it will ultimately take work from both partners to make a difference.

What I call Couple Decisioning is actually a form of an established protocol called Discernment Counselling, expanded from “couples on the brink” to also include couples who are ambivalent about doing the work needed to change things. Decisioning can involve joint meetings, while Discernment Counselling proper has a first joint meeting, and then each of you meet solo with me, in a single tandem appointment.)

To better help in such “mixed agenda” cases, Discernment Counselling was recently developed by Dr. William Doherty of the Couples on the Brink Project at the University of Minnesota. It is different from typical marriage counseling in that the goal is not to directly or immediately improve the relationship. Instead, leaning-out partners are supported as they decide whether to try to make that effort or choose a different path. Leaning-in partners receive support to understand the dynamics and hold on in the ways that will encourage their partner to give the relationship its best chance.

After an initial conversation with both partners, the typical format of each Decisioning session is that each of you has a one-on-one period with the counselor while the other leaves the room. After each of these periods, the counsellor will help you share with your partner a brief summary of what you gained from that.

Note that, unlike individual counseling where only one person’s interests are explored, the counsellor seeks to help both partners to arrive at greater clarity and confidence in making a decision about their future, based on a deeper understanding of the problems in the relationship, how these may have developed, and what would be required to change things for the better.

We spend time considering and discussing the options or paths that lay before the two of you, towards making a decision that has integrity for yourself and others.

  • Path 1 would be the status quo, continuing your relationship in the current way, at least for the time being.
  • Path 2 would be a constructive, collaborative parting, breakup, separation, or divorce (with support or referrals upon request), taking what you have learned to use in any future relationships.
  • Path 3 would be working towards the possibility of reconciliation, in which you both agree to take divorce off the table for six months, and commit to couple therapy.

Notice that Path 3 is not about staying together or avoiding divorce forever. If you choose path 3, you will each be working on yourself, with the therapist’s help, to make the relationship healthier. The therapist may be the same person who does the Couple Decisioning, or someone else of your choice. After those six months, you can re-evaluate where you are, based on what you have learned and what progress has been made.

Couple Decisioning is typically brief, lasting between one and five sessions. You would only commit to attending one session at a time. There is no pressure or rush to make a decision about which of these paths to take. In some cases, couples decide to take a time out (Path 1) and return to the discernment process later.

Discernment counseling is not suitable when one spouse has made a final decision to divorce and wants to encourage the other spouse accept that decision, or in cases of ongoing abuse, addiction, or affairs.

If you think Couple Decisioning may be suitable for you, please ask about it.

Intensive Package

CoupleSolutions offers a unique pricing plan: effectively unlimited* relationship counselling over a 28-day period, for $1440 (plus GST = $1,512.)

* Choose the length and type of your sessions as you go, as many as you want within 28 days, under these conditions of scheduling:

  • The 28-day period begins the day of the first completed (or missed) session.
  • Appointments are subject to pre-arrangement and availability. (The day of request is often possible, but I will usually give you several options that fall within 48 hours of your requested time.)
  • Any option given is held for your acceptance only for a limited time.
  • Up to 2 sessions per day, with maximum of 4 sessions per week.
  • No more than 8 hours of booking pending at any time.
  • Weekdays or weekends, but only between the hours of 10am to 8pm.
  • Joint sessions are a minimum of 1.5 hours and maximum of 3 hours each.
  • Solo sessions of less than 1 hour each must be scheduled in tandem (one partner right after the other).

These are the conditions of payment and refund:

  • Payment must be made in advance, in full, by Interac e-Transfer or WISE only (no credit cards).
  • There is no deferral of unused time beyond the 28-day period. Instead, unused funds are refundable after any time used is deducted at my regular hourly rate. (For example, if after our first two hour session, you decide not to continue or you just do not book again within the 28-day period, I would subtract 2 X $120 hourly rate = $240, and refund the difference of 1440-240 = $1200 plus GST.)
  • Missed sessions (you do not show, or cancel with less than 24 hours notice) count as time used against refunds.
  • This package may be suspended or terminated at any time, and the refund policy will apply.
  • Instead of a refund, you may request in writing to have the refundable amount applied to another package purchase, or to future sessions at my regular hourly rate.
  • Purchase this package as many times as you wish, with or without breaks. Many couples will need to continue therapy for several consecutive packages to get the best results.

Compared to my hourly rate, this plan carries no financial advantage for me, and no risk for you.  You can think of this as an automatic bulk purchase discount. The breakeven point (no refundable amount left) would be 1440/120 = 12 hours of sessions (the equivalent of a three-hour session once a week for 4 weeks). It is in your favor to use more time than that, and I would be glad if you would. However, even if you use less, you will never pay more than my hourly rate, since the extra will be refunded without question. You need not feel compelled to use more time than you need.

Booking

I’m welcoming new clients at this time. However, I have discontinued all in-person meetings at my office and at client locations. I’m now offering only remote sessions by videoconference, specializing in residents of BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Yukon.

If you are thinking about seeing me, just call me for a free introduction any day at (778) 827 1033, between 10am and 8pm (Vancouver time).

After hours, you may use email, text/SMS, or WhatsApp (most secure). If this is your first contact, in your message please specify when we can have a short voice call about your situation and I can answer any of your questions.

During that call, to ensure that I am the best person to help you, I will ask if either of you have:

Then, if you like, we can set a date, time, and duration for our first meeting.

Before that meeting, there are a few more steps. Each of you would review and agree to my Client Service Agreement.

I will then email you an invoice, so you can make a prepayment to firm up our appointment. Prepayments are fully refundable or transferable, except for missed appointments and late changes of less than 24 hours notice. Either partner may pay, by Interac e-Transfer. Hourly services may also be paid by credit card using PayPal.

To prepare for our video session, here are some tips on setting up. Then, a few minutes before our appointment, just visit my waiting room for secure video meetings to test your connection.

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