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What is reasonable to expect out of a relationship? Love and support? Understanding and encouragement? A sense of safety and belonging? Knowing that your partner really sees you? Knowing that your partner truly values you? Knowing that your feelings and needs matter to your partner? Trusting your partner even when you are not with him or her? Both of you seeking resolution, taking responsibility and attempting to restore closeness after conflict? If these things seem way over the top because you’re used to surviving with far less, they are not.

By Carina WolffSerotonin has long been credited as our mood regulator. It plays a role in how we feel, and low levels of the neurotransmitter may cause issues with happiness. We've been warned that taking drugs can mess with our serotonin, but there are a number of other unexpected habits that can affect serotonin levels as well. If you're feeling anxious, depressed, or even just experiencing low energy, forgoing these habits can help replenish your serotonin levels, which can improve how you feel overall.

By Carina WolffIt's exciting when you meet someone you want to date, but in order for the relationship to be successful, you want to make sure you've done the proper work on yourself first. There a number of life skills that will let you know if you're ready for a relationship because they will not only make life easier for yourself, but will help strengthen any relationship you may develop. According to experts, having these skills can help increase the chances of a relationship working out long-term. And even if you haven't perfected all of them by the time you commit to someone, it's good to start developing them before you enter a relationship.

Establishing healthy relationships means establishing healthy boundaries and clear and respectful guidelines for how we want to be treated by others.If you’ve ever been to therapy or read self-help books, you are likely to have come across the term, “setting boundaries”. In the past, I would skim over those words or nod my head in agreement with my therapist without giving this idea much thought. It wasn’t until I found myself exhausted from pouring so much of myself into everyone else, and resentful when I felt mistreated, that I realized I needed to perk up and learn what I could do to set my own boundaries.

Like many couples, Megan and Chris love each other, but they each admit to having communication problems. They recently had a second child and although they are overjoyed with their growing family, they are both handling the stress that accompanies it very differently.Megan describes feeling overwhelmed by taking care of two small children and all of the household responsibilities. She finds that she is increasingly irritable, she cries more easily than before, and often feels like she is failing to meet the growing demands of her family. Megan is hurt and angry that Chris is more distant than he used to be, but every time she asks him what’s wrong, he insists that everything is fine.

Inner child work is something that is typically explored in therapy, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Some of the most powerful “soul work” comes from looking at our inner child, or ourselves at various stages in childhood. It is particularly profound when we explore ourselves at a time when we may have experienced trauma of some kind. Trauma evokes such a strong, visceral and emotional reaction within, that it often stays with us for years afterwards and perhaps for an entire lifetime. Trauma doesn’t necessarily have to be a specific event. In fact, a chronic low-grade trauma in childhood such as a neglectful, dismissive or critical parent can yield a similar stress response.

“So, how does that make you feel?” This simple question routinely asked by most therapists makes the majority of people cringe. This is because most of us are conditioned to override our feelings and go straight to our thoughts. It’s uncomfortable to talk about feelings because it means being vulnerable, which most of us tend to avoid. This is especially true if we have grown up in families where feelings were not discussed. However, thoughts and feelings are two very different things and it is important to understand the distinction between the two.What is the difference between a thought and a feeling? A thought is an opinion or idea that is produced by thinking. As I type the words on this page, I am thinking about how I want to construct these sentences. A feeling is an emotion, a reaction or our emotional state. As I type the words on this page, I am feeling productive.