Relationship therapist Corrina Gordon-Barnes talks about her unique approach to family and couples coaching, and how she empowers clients to connect authentically with each other.
Less-Stress London: Your approach challenges the belief that it takes two to heal a relationship. Can you tell us about that?
Corinna Gordon-Barnes: Yes, my approach isn’t to work with the two-person relationship dynamic, but to work with the person who wants to change their experience – how they think and feel about the other person and how they interact with them. Why is it that our loved ones always know how to push our buttons? This offer is for people who want to move beyond reactivity.
L-SL: In traditional relationship guidance there is often an expectation that both parties need to be involved. Why do you think this isn’t the case?
CG-B: Expectations are fiction. We set up a script, “He should do this”, “She should be like that”, and then we’re comparing reality against that script. We’re not accessing our personal power. If we want to be at peace and happy, let’s deal with what’s actually happening rather than what we think “should” be happening. This doesn’t mean we can’t make requests or share how we feel, but regardless of whether they say yes or no, or whether they care or don’t, the power is fully back with us.
L-SL: Can anyone do this?
CG-B: I work with people who are passionate about personal growth, who want to become the best version of themselves in every aspect of life, and see tremendous growth opportunity in their relationships. A person needs to be committed to radical self-responsibility. They need to be open and honest and willing to look deeply at their thoughts and resentments about others.
L-SL: What is the role of forgiveness and acceptance in the process?
CG-B: Forgiveness is key here. Forgive your partner or your family member for not following your script. Take care of what’s yours to take care of: your actions, your words. Forgiveness is letting go of resentments. It’s not an easy process but the way that I work allows us to forgive fully and experience that freedom.
Take care of what’s yours to take care of: your actions, your words. Forgiveness is letting go of resentments
L-SL: How did your personal experience of self-development influence what you teach?
CG-B: I essentially provide tools for investigation into relationships. I embarked on a personal growth journey when I was 21. I found that the problem with self-development is that can you do a lot of work on your own micro-world, but often this doesn’t improve your relationships. You are still your old self when you begin to interact with others again. There was still a gulf between how I thought about myself when alone and when I was with others. When I really gave myself the permission to express my resentments and blame in writing, I then began to question my own thoughts and habits and I started to see my part in relationships differently.
L-SL: Can the Relationship Reset approach be applied to different relationships besides marriages and romantic partnerships?
CG-B: Yes. I’ve been focusing on marriage guidance, but we are now moving into working with the “Big Six”: mother, father, sister, brother, child and partner, to improve both romantic and family relationships. This is in response to demand from people who wish to be the best version of themselves in all aspects of their lives. We crave authentic connection and true togetherness. Culturally, we have lost the community we used to have, so in addition to one-to-one guidance, we’re now starting face-to-face gatherings for ongoing social support.