Over the years, there have been workshops in Hay River on a vast array of topics.

Tzu-Hsuan Lin, a mental health and addictions counsellor and also an art therapist with Community Counselling Services, will lead a workshop called Skills for Healthy Romantic Relationships, which is set for Feb. 25. February 2021 Hay River Photo courtesy of Hay River Health and Social Services Authority

A new one is being offered on Feb. 25 with a workshop entitled Skills for Healthy Romantic Relationships.

Tzu-Hsuan Lin, a mental health and addictions counsellor and also an art therapist with Community Counselling Services, says it will deal with what a healthy relationship looks like.

“We are going to have a video and do an art activity on what your ideal relationship looks like in this workshop, and have a discussion,” she said.

Lin recognizes that a workshop on romantic relationships is unusual for Hay River.

However, she said that Community Counselling Services does couple’s counselling.

“We don’t want things to wait until you’re too late to work on it,” she said. “We want to start by letting people know about how to select the right partner before we choose maybe not an ideal one and commit to it right away.”

While some people might think that romantic relationships would be difficult to analyze, Lin said there is a lot of evidence-based research on the topic.

In fact, she said three skills are the most important for successful romantic relationships.

“One is about insight, which means the awareness we have on how to be honest with yourself and knowing what’s right for you,” she said.

Lin added that the second important skill is mutuality.

“It means we have to know both people have their needs, and both needs matter, and how do we work to meet these needs,” she said.

The third most important skill is called emotion regulation.

“It’s about regulating your feelings in response to what happens in a relationship, not just lashing out,” said Lin. “That sounds easy, but it’s not easy. Usually, we just kind of fight and let our emotions out in maybe not a good way in a relationship.”

The counsellor also said that sometimes people jump into romantic relationships right away when it might be a better idea to slow down.

“You notice that you have these strong feelings, but it takes time to know another person,” she said.

The workshop will begin with a 15-minute video called Skills for Healthy Romantic Relationships by Dr. Joanne Davila, an expert in the field and a professor of psychology in the United States.

Following the video, there will be a discussion and creation of art for participants to express what they have learned.

The workshop is limited to five people aged 16 and up because of Covid-19 protocols. As of late last week, three people had signed up.

Lin said another workshop on romantic relationships might be held depending on the demand.

She will be facilitating the Feb. 25 workshop along with wellness worker Angela Jones.

One of the reasons the workshop is being held in February is the month also features Valentine’s Day.

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