Strengthening Relationships: Unlocking the Power of Couple Therapy

Strengthening Relationships: Unlocking the Power of Couple Therapy

In today’s fast-paced world, maintaining a healthy and fulfilling relationship can be a challenge. The ups and downs of life, communication gaps, unresolved conflicts, and emotional distance can strain even the strongest bonds. However, there is a powerful solution available: couple therapy. In this blog, we explore the problems couple therapy addresses, the benefits it offers, and how it can help you build a stronger, more loving partnership.

Couple therapy provides a safe and supportive space where couples can address a wide range of common issues that negatively affect relationships. These include:

  1. Communication breakdown: Effective communication is the cornerstone of any successful relationship. Couple therapy helps couples improve their communication skills, enabling them to express their needs, concerns, and emotions more effectively.
  2. Conflict resolution: Conflicts are inevitable in any relationship, but it’s how they are managed that matters. Couple therapy equips couples with strategies to resolve conflicts in a healthy and constructive manner, fostering understanding, compromise, and empathy.
  3. Trust and betrayal: Rebuilding trust after a breach, such as infidelity, can be incredibly challenging. Couple therapy provides a supportive environment for couples to work through trust issues, facilitating healing and rebuilding a foundation of trust.
  4. Intimacy and connection: Over time, the spark and intimacy in a relationship can fade. Couple therapy helps couples reconnect emotionally and rekindle the flame of passion, fostering a deeper and more fulfilling bond.

Benefits of Couple Therapy: Engaging in couple therapy can bring about numerous benefits, including:

  1. Improved communication: By learning effective communication techniques, couples can express themselves more clearly, reducing misunderstandings and conflicts.
  2. Enhanced problem-solving skills: Couple therapy equips couples with the tools to navigate challenges and find mutually satisfactory solutions.
  3. Increased emotional intimacy: Therapy provides a space for couples to express their feelings, fostering emotional closeness and strengthening the emotional connection between partners.
  4. Strengthened bond: By addressing underlying issues and nurturing a supportive environment, couple therapy can strengthen the bond between partners, increasing relationship satisfaction.
  5. Prevention of future problems: Couple therapy is not only beneficial for troubled relationships but can also serve as a preventive measure. It helps couples proactively address potential issues, ensuring a healthier and more resilient partnership.

If you and your partner are facing challenges in your relationship, don’t hesitate to seek professional help through couple therapy. Take the first step towards a happier, more harmonious partnership by contacting The Retreat Clinics today. Our experienced relationships therapist are dedicated to helping couples overcome obstacles and build stronger foundations for lasting love and happiness.

The Science of Stress.

How stress impacts our body, and 9 strategies to reduce stress.

Stress is an unavoidable part of our everyday lives. While some amount of stress can be helpful, excessive and long-term exposure can damage our physical and mental health. In this blog post, we will explore the various ways stress impacts our body and some of the ways we can better manage it.

When we experience stress, the body releases a hormone called cortisol. This hormone triggers the body’s “fight or flight” response, which causes several physiological changes. The heart rate increases, causing blood pressure to rise and blood vessels to narrow. This is because the body thinks it is under threat and must prepare to respond. Our respiratory rate also increases, causing faster breathing and a supply of oxygen to the muscles. The digestive system slows down, which is not a priority when the body is under stress. This is why we can feel like we have a stomach upset, or experience indigestion and loss of appetite. The immune system is also suppressed and less effective in fighting infections and diseases.

When under stress, muscles tend to tense up, leading to aches and pains. The body’s natural painkillers, called endorphins, can give us a temporary sense of relief or what some people might describe as a ‘euphoria’. The liver releases glucose into the bloodstream to give the body energy to respond to the perceived threat. As the prefrontal cortex is activated, we can also experience a short burst of increased focus, attention, and memory.

These responses can positively and negatively affect the body, depending on the circumstances and duration of the stress. Prolonged or chronic stress negatively impacts our health. When stressed for a long time, we are more likely to experience anxiety, low mood, or even depression. Stress can also impair our ability to concentrate and make decisions, leaving us overwhelmed and exhausted. This impacts our productivity at work or school, creating a cycle of more stress.  Stress can impact our relationships and might increase social withdrawal or isolation. Prolonged stress can lead to physical health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Ultimately, excessive stress can lead to a reduced quality of life. It can rob us of joy and happiness and prevent us from enjoying the things that matter most.

There are a lot of strategies that you can implement that have been scientifically shown to reduce stress. You will know what works best for you; if it works, keep going. If it doesn’t, that is also ok. Try something else.

  1. Exercise – regular exercise can help reduce stress by releasing endorphins (feel-good hormones) and reducing tension in the body.
  2. Get enough rest – getting enough sleep is crucial for mental and physical health, and lack of sleep can contribute to stress.
  3. Practising relaxation techniques – deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or mindfulness- can help relax and calm the mind.
  4. Connect with others – talking to friends or family, joining a support group or participating in activities you enjoy can help you feel more connected and reduce stress.
  5. Prioritise time management – creating a schedule or to-do list can help manage time and reduce the impact of stressful events.
  6. Focus on the positive – focusing on positive experiences and aspects of life can help shift perspective away from negative or stressful situations.
  7. Eat a healthy diet – a healthy diet can help reduce the impact of stress on the body by providing the right nutrients and energy.
  8. Set realistic goals – setting realistic, achievable goals can help alleviate stress and increase motivation.
  9. Take breaks – short breaks throughout the day to stretch, relax, or engage in enjoyable activities can help reduce stress and improve productivity.

It is important to remember that this is not a substitute for seeing a mental health professional. If your mental wellbeing is still not improving, it is ok to get outside help. The Retreat Clinics are here to help, so contact us if you need us.


First day of Spring

Today marks the first day of Spring! This means warmer weather, more daylight and flourishing plants. Many individuals may feel low from the winter with a lack of vitamin D from the sun and the winter blues. Spring cleaning is on the cards this month for many, it dates back to the ancient Jewish custom in which Jewish families thoroughly clean their houses in preparation for the Springtime feast of Passover.

Many of us feel the pressure of a Spring clean, those who suffered throughout the winter months with low moods may have fallen behind with basic cleaning tasks.  This is completely normal and could be the reason you feel more stress and pressure to catch up with all the cleaning.

However, research suggests Spring cleaning can provide a stress reduction, and due to the reduction in stress, we feel a positive effect on our mental well-being. Spring cleaning is also a physical activity, there are many significant benefits that physical activity has on our mental health. Physical activity gives us a sense of achievement, feeling less angry/ frustrated and aids with motivation and concentration.

Below are some helpful tips to consider before starting your Spring cleaning:

Create a list of tasks you wish to achieve whilst going through your Spring cleaning, this will give you structure and keep you focused.

Declutter before you start cleaning, if you start to clean a cluttered home you will soon become frustrated and overwhelmed with this. It is best to always start with decluttering and organising before moving on.

Take breaks, Spring cleaning doesn’t need to happen within 24 hours take your time with this. It is best to start in one place and start small. Take it one space at a time and try not to move on to something else before finishing what you have already started. This will help you avoid becoming overwhelmed.

Play music whilst you complete your cleaning tasks, you may be feeling anxious to start these tasks. Research suggests music can be a medium for processing emotions and regulating anxiety.

Wherever it is you start with your Spring cleaning, you should be proud that you have made that start. If you are unable to make a start with the Spring cleaning, it may be helpful for you to communicate with a trusted individual and ask them for some help. It takes courage to ask and recognise you may need a helping hand, by reaching out you have already made a start.

Mother’s Day

Sunday 19th March, we express our gratitude and love for our mother and motherly figures today. We normally find ourselves buying flowers or self-care gifts to suggest today is a day for relaxation. The love of a mother for their child is unconditional, we are nurtured by our mothers as an expression of this unconditional love.

We spend today returning that unconditional love by nurturing our mothers to express our admiration. Although mother’s day is not a  joyous day for mothers who have experienced the loss of their child.

The mass of happy celebrations on mother’s day all over the country reminds bereaving mothers of this loss. Losing a child is never easy, when grief cycles back around on this day it gets messy. The connection between mother and child seems tethered although this is not the case as they are still bound by this unconditional love. Grief is complex and not black and white, mindful.

Grief on mother’s day also surfaces for those who have lost a parent, You may feel anger, sadness and isolation. It is normal for you to re-experience all of these emotions but there are ways to help manage this. Planning and taking action for mother’s day can help you keep a structure for when you are feeling low. Reflecting on your grief. As mother’s day is a yearly reoccurrence reflection becomes a significant part of your day.

Being compassionate and patient with yourself is important, as understanding that your emotions are valid. It can be helpful to talk about and share your feelings with a close friend, family member or counsellor. Tell them what you need, whether it is a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, or just company around you.

Remember that every grieving process is unique, you cannot compare how you deal with your loss or how others might be coping. The experience of grief can manifest in a variety of emotions, feelings and reactions. Intense feelings may not always be there but can appear unexpectedly throughout the grieving process.

Student Mental Health Awareness day

Over the last couple of years, the decline in student mental health has increased. There is a revolving door of research surrounding student mental health however this does not seem to slow down the rise in the decline in student mental health.

Burnout amongst students is on the rise as we are currently facing a cost of living crisis. Many Universities do offer financial support for their students who are struggling, it is best to contact your student support services who will be able to help guide you in the right direction.

The data for students’ mental health reported by Randstad in 2022 have stated almost 50% of students have considering dropping out of university, 7 in every 10 students have either been diagnosed with a long-term mental health condition, are experiencing a short-term mental health condition, or think they may have a condition that has not been diagnosed.

The pressure students face increases throughout their three years+ of studying, passing your degree becomes a priority and one setback can have a knock-on effect on that student’s academic studies. Students should be reminded that during the summer period, many universities offer a resubmission period, this is to prevent having to re-sit the entire year. Some Universities offer a first attempt or defer your work until the summer period. Ask your university about its policy on mitigating circumstances, your well-being team or student union will be able to advise you on your universities specific policy.

It is important to talk to your course tutor/lecturers, they are there to help you and guide you through your course. They will give you the best advice on the work you may be worrying about. Students may find the university counselling services beneficial if they are waiting to be seen by a GP or mental health professional. Most universities have a well-being team that is dedicated to supporting students’ mental health throughout their time at university.

The Retreat Clinics is currently offering a free online workshop for young people managing exam stress, this is running on 20th April at 12:00 pm. You can find out more on our Events page.

EDI in the workplace LGBT+ history month

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) are significant positive factors in a healthy workplace culture,  they are embedded within many companies’ values. We all want to feel a sense of belonging amongst our co-workers and to feel safe at work whilst being our authentic selves. The LGBT+ community has worked tirelessly throughout the last century to gain equality and raise awareness of the continuous discrimination that the community faces.

Many employers provide mandatory EDI training for all members of staff to undertake. Educating all employees certainly aims to promote a healthy culture in the workplace but is this enough?

The LGBT+ community is in need of allyship, there is a need within all workplace cultures for acceptance and education. This enables employees to feel confident in raising a concern and spotting discriminatory behaviours. Employers have a responsibility to protect all members of staff as per the Equality Act 2010, this includes both their physical and mental well-being. Everybody should feel safe in their place of work.

The rainbow flag has become an iconic symbol for the LGBT+ community, Pride is the first thought that comes to mind when we see a rainbow flag. Employers take part in Pride month events every year and spend the majority of June promoting acceptance. However, consideration needs to be given to the remaining 11 months of the year. Throughout the last 2 years, I have noticed one small change in many companies that certainly feels like a genuine nod towards inclusivity, this is stating our pronouns within our email signature.

The Trans community face an alarming amount of discrimination daily, misgendering being one whether this is intentional or unintentional. By providing our pronouns within our email signatures we are addressing that gap. This is a simple gesture that goes a long way towards EDI in the workplace.

Being a true ally is all about challenging homophobia and transphobia as well as supporting your LGBT+ colleagues.

LGBT+ History Month – Young People and Mental Health

February marks LGBT+ history month, and whilst this is a celebratory month that delves into the historical advancement of the LGBT+ community, a sizeable amount of the community’s history is the discrimination members have faced.

Research suggests children and young people who identify as LGBT+ have a higher risk of developing a mental health condition. This is not to say that identifying as LGBT+ causes mental health problems, rather the discrimination they face has a significant impact on their mental health.

Why is it important LGBT+ Children and Young People are validated?

University of Cambridge research for Stonewall in The School Report (2017) found that:

As a child or young person, they may be feeling overwhelmed, worried or confused, but this is normal and completely understandable. We would encourage children and young people to speak confidently to a trusted person who can support them on their journey. We should focus on the achievement this is for many young people, to finally have that conversation and to present as their authentic selves.

As a member of the LGBT+ community myself, I have noticed the relief felt when I can openly talk about my sexuality without the stigma and strange looks we expect. During my teen years, I felt seen and comfortable among my peers and not like the outcast society said I would be. I was privileged with my coming out story, however, I know many have trauma relating back to that time in their life. This is why LGBT+ History Month is so important in educating a wider audience on ways we can support and become more inclusive as society.

Written by Sophie Wrotniak.

Blue Monday- The January Blues


This year Blue Monday falls on 16th January. While the origin of this day comes from a travel agency’s PR stunt, it is true there is an increased number of individuals feeling low during January which has led to the phrase The January Blues. The most common causes for this period of low mood are Seasonal affective disorder, financial stress and expectations set by new years resolutions.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is the experience of periods of low moods during the winter months, poor weather and lack of daylight are thought to contribute to the development of SAD. It is suggested a lack of daylight can lower your levels of happiness due to a lack of vitamin D, this can lead to the experience of depressive symptoms.

January is also the month that follows Christmas and New Year, For many financial stress increases and you may have set unrealistic New Year’s resolutions. Many individuals will set New Year’s resolutions with high expectations of what they can achieve. Due to a lack of vitamin D, most individuals feel a lack of motivation. A lack of motivation will make us more likely to break our New Years resolution leaving many disappointed, which can also contribute to feeling low during this period.

Many would have heard the well-known phrase “new year, new me”. But it is important to remember while it is a new year, we are still ourselves. The new year simply brings new opportunities and new starts for us all. Try to set realistic goals of what you would like to achieve for this month and work towards this.

All the above contributes to the January Blues, but it is important to remember if you are experiencing this you are not alone and it is possible to beat the blues with some of the self-help tips listed below.

Sometimes periods of low moods cannot be alleviated by self-help, and you may need to seek some professional advice. Here at The Retreat Clinics our therapists are highly experienced and skilled in short-term therapy and brief treatment programmes, as well as in longer-term work.

Our initial consultations ensure we understand your budget and can carefully consider with you what we can offer that is be a good fit for your financial budget, as well as your mental health needs.

All of our therapies are available at our clinics in York, Manchester and online.

If you would like to find out more please get in touch by emailing or







Loneliness and Grief at Christmas

Christmas isn’t like it looks on TV!  Every advert shows a perfect family, a happy holiday and a wonderful time with friends and loved ones.

With all the ‘perfect’ images, feeling lonely can be particularly difficult at Christmas.  We might be missing someone through bereavement, estrangement, divorce, or simply the high cost of the transport to reach them this year.  We can be lonely because we’re alone, or sometimes we can feel lonely with lots of people surrounding us.  This might be the first year we have found hard, or Christmas might be something we dread every year.


Be kind to yourself – Think about what might help you to get through.  Do you want the comfort of all your usual traditions, or might you need a change this year?  There are no rules

Escape for a moment – Try to distract yourself with something not at all Christmassy – watch a favourite film, spend some time on a hobby, read a book, take a walk

Be careful around social media – Even if you know the pictures are posed, social media will be full of happy posts, and you may need to take a breath before reading, or even choose to avoid scrolling altogether for a few days

Look after yourself – Your usual routine is helpful.  Make sure you rest properly, eat reasonably well and regularly, and don’t overdo the alcohol

Reach out – Contact someone on whatever level feels right to you.  A Whatsapp chat, a phone call, a face to face visit or just a hello when you’re out walking the dog, they all help.

If it feels too much, contact someone

Sarah Millican hosts #joinin on Christmas day on Twitter

The Samaritans 116 123 or online at

Cruse bereavement support Helpline on 0808 808 1677 (open 10-2 on Christmas day)

If you would like to find out more about the support we can offer please get in touch by emailing or or call on 0161 445 2099 or 01904 412551.