Sometimes we wander day-to-day wondering what is next or perhaps not even wondering at all… just living. After a while, this can lead to indirection, misdirection and a sense of aimlessly plodding through life. To avoid apathy and the awful potential to implode… it is important to set clear goals that provide direction for life.

Getting what we want out of life requires intentional effort.

Minimize the chance of setting vague goals by using the acronym SMART. This can give direction to your goal setting and improve successful outcomes:

S = Specific: we want to be sure the goal is clearly stated with enough detail about exactly what we want to achieve.

M = Measurable: goals that are measurable can be easier to attain because we’ll know when we have reached them.

A = Attainable: Ensure you are realistic when setting goals making them something within (or slightly above) your capacity at the time.

R = Relevant: motivation increases when we believe the goal is important and meaningful. A passionate feeling about the task helps.

T = Timely: Set exactly when you want to reach the goal. This can add motivation.  Timing can always be adjusted if need be.

Using this  mnemonic can help remind us of the important components to goal setting. If you want to be even SMARTER about the task;

E = Evaluate: Be sure to look back at your accomplishment and rate how you did, what got in the way and what might improve next time.

R = Reward: To keep our energy and motivation  to reach goals high, be sure to give yourself a little (or big) reward for your efforts and also for achieving success!

Be goal-directed. Set smart goals today and see your excitement and motivation for life improve?

Have fun! 


back burner

What exactly does “back burner” mean?

Well this “back burner phrase is very popular in the therapy room, usually carrying quite a negative connotation with it. Couples struggling with their marital relationships, due to both internal and external stressors, readily admit to placing their romance “on the back burner”. This usually occurs shortly after children are born and when they are infants and toddlers.

This makes perfect sense given how adorable and dependent children are, not to mention all the adjustments and change that occurs once children are part of the equation. These stress factors are likely why close to a third of couples who separate do so during the first five years of having children.

Parental responsibilities added to work, extended family and social obligations can leave much less time and energy for romantic efforts. Dating may dwindle as evenings are spent bathing, story-telling and singing lullabies. Even time to just sit and chat with each other becomes more difficult to find.

Weekend opportunities are sacrificed for extra laundering, feedings, special food preparation and for simply special moments holding “little bundles of joy”. It becomes very easy to look at each other and agree, perhaps without even a word, to put the marital needs “on the back burner”.

This is, however, very dangerous.  Children benefit most from parents who are happy, work together and stay together creating a healthy and satisfying relationship.  No, this type of relationship does not come naturally. Just because it wasn’t taught in school doesn’t mean training and hard work aren’t required for excellence in marriage. There are many resources to help, ranging from marriage counselling, coaching, seminars and retreats to books, videos and good internet site materials.

We at Jeff Packer MSW & Associates Inc. have developed a seminar called “The Seven Spheres of Intimacy” that helps couples examine their current functioning across the spheres and develop priorities for enhancing marital intimacy.  Our trained counsellors in Oshawa work with couples throughout the Durham Region and world wide through internet on-line video-based counselling sessions.

For a consultation, assessment and to schedule your initial meeting Contact us today !

 Get Help and Protect Your Children From Conflict

Once the decision to end a marriage is made, a whirlwind of emotions and a multitude of decisions spring up for all family members. Never having a marriage breakup before, couples will quite often wrestle with what to do, how and when to tell the children, the family, friends and employers.

They also may say “we are going to get along and work out the details” amicably. While this seems rational and reasonable at first, tensions around the unknown, legal matters and practical decisions that need to be made begin to press in on parents from all sides. Children feel and are impacted by this stress.

Managing the complexities of marital separation without experienced, professional coaching can be quite risky, especially when children’s emotional health is at risk.  As arguments build and hurts compound, a pattern of adversarial and conflictual interaction develops. All too often, sides begin to be drawn up, extended family join in the fight and getting along begins to seem “unrealistic”.

Peace is possible as is cooperative and  parenting after separation and divorce.

Our Oshawa counsellors at Jeff Packer MSW & Associates are trained to assist parents by developing co-parenting plans that address communication strategies, access coordination and schedules and coach practical ways to discuss issues with children, family and friends. Rather than risk your child’s health and well being, consider hiring a coach to help you with adjusting, developing effective negotiation and problem-solving skills and by reducing the time and money spent fighting unnecessarily.

Contact us today




How many times do you hear this phrase from a spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend?  “We’ve grown apart”.

I wonder where and when we first heard this phrase? Was it in a movie or on a TV show?  Is it really true? Do people grow apart?  This sounds like an excuse to leave. Like the person who says this no longer has a say in the relationship. Perhaps they feel they have no ability to change, grow, develop and adopt new behaviours that will spark up and enhance the relationship.

Change in ourselves changes the way we relate with others. I don’t really think we grow apart as much as we make choices, a series of decisions that are not supportive to the relationship. Choices can be made arbitrarily, without considering the other’s opinion. Maybe we are not open to getting their feedback?  These can certainly take away from intimacy and reduce closeness. Another behaviour or action that is harmful to romance and dating relationships is not really hearing the other person’s concerns or feelings. These are just a few ways we can be choosing, whether we are aware of it or not, to create distance in the relationship.

Long before the break-up, the realization we are no longer close, both partners have usually made thousands of decisions against closeness, detrimental to the construction of a wonderful and amazing intimate romance.

Making positive choices and taking action for the relationship include politeness, calm negotiations, hearing one another and acting upon what is heard, punctuality and sharing of day-to-day tasks and chores to name just a few. Additionally, reading a few good books on ways to build a healthy romantic relationship (e.g. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman or Love and Respect by Dr Emerson Eggeriches) can greatly assist couples in their journey toward romantic joy and satisfaction.

Combining this with coaching, before things are “too bad” is also a good idea. Our counsellors located in Oshawa are professionally trained to guide you to healthier communication, interpersonal skill development and toward the quality relationship you desire. Like the roots and branches of trees intertwined, gradually over time, so too can couples learn how to become closer, more caring, empathetic and understanding. Each person can choose to develop more positive and optimistic views which in turn increases positive feelings and behaviours toward one another.

To find out how we can help you grow together Contact us todaynature

“We have kids now! There’s no time for intimacy!”

“NOT NOW! I’m too tired!”

“You want to try what???”

Do you remember when you first met your partner? Remember the passion, the flirting, the loving gestures, the quickies? Then two, three, five, ten years later you wonder where that “excitement” of being together went?

Maintaining any kind of relationship requires intentional effort. If you and your partner are experiencing intimacy concerns, a great way to bring that connection back to your relationship is to start in the kitchen.

Dr. Kevin Leman’s book “Sex Begins in the Kitchen,” expresses the necessity of foreplay and flirting. We, at Jeff Packer & Associates also suggest tiny little love gestures (77 to be specific).

It is important to understand that intimacy is not just sex. And perhaps the reason that sex has gone astray in your relationship is because you and your partner have neglected the six additional spheres of intimacy: emotional, conflict/crises, recreational, intellectual, spiritual, and experiential.

If you would like to assess where your relationship is in regards to the seven spheres of intimacy and would also like to find out how many of those 77 tiny loving gestures you and your partner can express to each other daily, then book an appointment with Andrea and Jeff today!

There is an assumption that the key to having a successful relationship is common interests. Some thoughts that may arise in a troubling relationship are: “We have nothing in common!” “Opposites DO NOT attract!” “If we don’t like the same things, there is nothing to talk about!” Or, “I can’t explain it to him/her, because he/she will never understand.”

If your wife loves arts & crafts and you don’t, does that mean you love her less? If your husband is out in the garage working on his cars all day, does that mean you love him less?  The key to having a successful relationship is a shared value system. Ask yourself and your partner this question: “Do we both want to grow and develop together?” A successful relationship will consist of two people who are open to discovering together, learning together, teaching one another, and communicating with each other in such a way that you can feel heard, respected, and supported.

Sometimes we assume that the frustration we have towards our partner is due to lack of common interests. When a couple attends counselling and discusses the difficulties with obtaining shared interests, what is usually discovered is a realm of other problems (e.g., communication barriers, poor time management skills, parenting disagreements, sexual frustration, and/or difficulties with conflict resolution…to name a few!).

If you and your partner can both agree to wanting to grow and develop together—to wanting to make your relationship work, then know that it is possible without having to be interested in the same things. With the right coaching, you and your partner can (1) create effective communicating skills to address concerns in your relationship, (2) maintain your own personal interests while still having a powerful relationship, and  (3) discover the new and exciting places you can take your relationship.

If you are ready to take your relationship up a notch (or two), click here and book an appointment with us today!

Looking around in our society today does not seem to support this “traditional” vow. What ever happened to “for better or for worse”… “in sickness and in health” … “for richer or for poorer”? I guess more contemporary vows are supposed to read “until serious struggles arise that we can’t handle on our own” “unless I change my mind”… and “except if I’m no longer feelin it”.  Seriously, who would sign up for this type of commitment?

So, what is the benefit to long-term committed romantic relationships? One of the lesser known benefits of marriage is memory and identity. Couples help one another with story-telling, co-creating memories to tell and re-tell. That trip down east, decorating the house, dealing with a child’s illness and celebrating great moments in time are just a few examples of events that are woven into the identity of the couple. Intimate companionship and an avenue for truly healthy sexual expression are, of course, the common aspects people may give as the value of marriage. And for many, reproduction and child rearing in partnership brings amazing satisfaction that is well worth the challenges and stress associated with building a life-long romance.

Maybe these benefits contribute to the 62% of marriages in Canada that surpass the 30th anniversary mark!

Healthy relationships are built upon a commitment to work on learning from each other daily, helping each other become the most amazing spouses possible and by being open to guidance and support to accomplish this goal. Why not “till death do you part”? After all, isn’t that what’s in our hearts, dreams and wishes? … forever!