New counselling skills track maps out job pathways for counsellors in Singapore
Ms Theresa Pong, counselling director and founder of The Relationship Room, who attended the symposium on Thursday, said the new track recognises the importance of counselling and its role in strengthening relationships and building resilience in individuals.
Family dynamics have evolved tremendously, she added, with rising trends such as more transnational, blended and single-parent families in Singapore, she added.
“As we see more and more families from diverse backgrounds and dynamics seeking help to mend relationships or get support for mental health challenges, it is crucial to have a structured pathway or framework in training so that we can work with families with high needs,” said Ms Pong.
- The Straits Times, 2 Nov 2023
Going to therapy is a ‘green flag’ in partners, say millennials and Gen Zs
Ms Theresa Pong, counselling director at The Relationship Room, often sees couples who come to her to clarify whether they are compatible enough to go the distance. These “couples-in-courtship” come for help to break out of conflict cycles, where they keep fighting and falling into antagonistic patterns of behaviour.
Seeing a counsellor or therapist helps couples and individuals gain insights into their emotional needs and interaction patterns that will empower them to “build resilient and healthy connections”, she says.
- The Straits Times, 9 Sep 2023
Is Your Partner Emotionally Unavailable?
Theresa Pong, counselling director at The Relationship Room, explains that being emotionally unavailable refers to the psychological and emotional state of an individual who is unable to connect with other parties at a deeper and more vulnerable level. In a relationship, for example, she says it may manifest as a pattern of avoiding having difficult conversations that involve sharing emotions.
She also notes that individuals could have commitment issues as a result of being largely emotionally unavailable and, therefore, unable to articulate their inner thoughts and feelings.
“In this case, the individual may find difficulty in articulating their concerns about the relationship,” she elaborates. “Having such difficult conversations can be overwhelming for them, and to avoid staying in the discomfort, they will withdraw and remain quiet or avoid discussion that is related to future relationship plans.”
- Her World, 21 Aug 23
Why is a larger share of the more recent ‘I Dos’ going the distance?
Couples who remarry often have to manage issues arising from children and ex-spouses from their previous marriage, which could be a source of tension.
Other unresolved issues, or emotional baggage, can strain the relationship, said Ms Theresa Pong, counsellor director at the Relationship Room.
“Without working through the grief, trauma and other emotional issues (from the failed marriage), the couple brings past baggage into the current remarriage, expecting that by getting into a new marriage, such past issues would be resolved on its own.
“In many cases that we see, the unresolved issues often lead to intense conflicts,” she added.
- The Straits Times, 19 Aug 2023
The Big Read: Dealing with infidelity, the ‘cancer’ of marriages
Ms Theresa Pong, founder of counselling firm The Relationship Room, said that the broken trust between the partners can result in them spiralling into a cycle of causing hurt to one another.
The injured partner, who goes through a process called betrayal trauma, experiences symptoms such as anxiety, depression, hyper-vigilance and fear, she said.
“This would manifest as constant interrogation of the infidelity act on the offending party,” she added.
“As the offending party does not know how to manage such behaviour, it would result in reactive conflicts that lead to even more emotional injuries to the primary relationship.”
- TODAY, 28 Jul 2023
Record number of marriages, fewer divorces in Singapore in 2022
Among the marital dissolutions observed in 2022, the highest number of divorces come from marriages between five and 10 years old. Ms Theresa Pong, Counselling Director, shares with Channel NewsAsia her thoughts on the reasons why this particular group is susceptible to divorce and how couples can navigate through the different seasons in their marriages.
- Channel NewsAsia, 26 Jul 2023
Largest share of divorces and annulments in Singapore is among those wed for between 5 and 10 years
Ms Theresa Pong, counsellor director at the Relationship Room, said there are research findings to support the seven-year itch.
For instance, Dr John Gottman, a psychologist, found that unhappy couples take an average of six years before they decide to seek help.
Said Ms Pong: “Sadly, these six years are generally filled with conflicts, unhappiness and perhaps issues involving trust. By the time couples realise that they need help, it would take a much longer period and effort to heal from the pain they have experienced.
“Unfortunately, many would choose to give up on their marriages, as they feel it would take too much to heal.”
- The Straits Times, 26 Jul 2023
My husband quit his job because of PSLE. But was it worth it?
Ms Theresa Pong, the founder and counselling director at The Relationship Room, a counselling private practice, said that unlike women who reach out for companions or join support groups in stressful situations, men tend to cope with their struggles by themselves.
SAHDs in particular, she said, could be facing their children throughout the day with no other social connections.
She recommends that they pursue hobbies or interests to build a positive outlook.
“Dads can continue to upgrade themselves through courses so that when their children are old enough, they can still go back to the workforce or even embark on businesses.”
- The Straits Times, 27 May 2023
Weaponised Incompetence - What is it, and How to Deal with it with your Partner
𝑾𝒆𝒂𝒑𝒐𝒏𝒊𝒛𝒆𝒅 𝒊𝒏𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒑𝒆𝒕𝒆𝒏𝒄𝒆 is a term used to describe a situation where a person or organization deliberately uses their incompetence as a tactic to avoid responsibility, manipulate situations, or achieve their goals. However, in recent years, this term has been made famous by many videos made on TikTok, mainly women, sharing their personal experiences of how this concept manifests in their marriages or relationships.
Ms Theresa Pong, Counselling Director, has the privilege to share her views on what weaponized incompetence is in the latest online edition of Her World Singapore. Click on the link below to find out more how we can prevent weaponized incompetence in our personal relationships / marriages.
- Her World, 4 April 2023
Balancing Dual-career Relationships
Ms Theresa Pong, Counselling Director, had the privilege to be invited by Uncommon, a private network of female leaders to discuss about how to manage career transitions and relationship growths. In this one-hour webinar, she shared two major tips:
- Uncommon - 23 Feb 23
6 ways to co-parent better after divorce
Experts say that all members of the family benefit from effective co-parenting.
Ms Pong says former spouses can enjoy a less stressful parenting journey, be a part of their child’s life and focus on having positive experiences. Children can create happy memories instead of being trapped in the middle of their parents’ battles.
“They also learn through modelling what it means to be respectful to one another. If parents are able to communicate with each other cordially, their children would gain positive social skills, which would be important in establishing healthy relationships with others. This would, in turn, help to enhance their self-esteem,” she adds.
- The Straits Times, 6 Nov 2022
Never dated before? Try meeting more people with no expectations first, say experts
Ms Theresa Pong, counselling director at The Relationship Room, which counsels couples, said that while the advancement of technology has increased the pool of potential people to date, it has also made human interactions less intimate and personal.
"A long time ago, we get to know each other by going on dates and meeting each other face to face, and that helps to improve our human interaction skills," she said.
- TODAY, 16 Oct 2022
Adulting 101: I am unlearning and relearning how to express my feelings after a lifetime of anxiety
Ms Theresa Pong, counselling director of The Relationship Room, said that generally, how comfortable an individual is with being open to another depends on a concept called “Differentiation of Self (DoS)”.
It is important for individuals to have a strong sense of DoS because it helps them maintain their own thoughts and emotions even in the face of pressure from people around them, she said.
“In other words, if we are able to develop a strong DoS, it means that we are able to recognise our needs and wants and maintain our individuality (personal identity) and not lose ourselves in the process of protecting the relationship with the other party," Ms Pong explained.
- TODAY, 10 Sep 2022
The Big Read: Generational gap — a bridge too far or are we making too much of it?
Ms Theresa Pong, the counselling director of The Relationship Room, which work with couples and families, said it is important to firstly, remain curious about why people may have differing views and secondly, to be respectful when addressing those views.
“When you are curious, you will seek the rationale for why people do things because there must be a reason. That’s when the wall can be lowered and true communication can happen.
“And when you can respect each other’s views, there is this thing called safety in communication. That’s when we know that when we share our views, it won’t be put down or be used against us,” she added.
- TODAY, 28 May 2022
Adulting 101: How to avoid conflicts with your parents-in-law
"Conflict often starts because there are emotions involved, and both parties are reacting to each other," said Ms Pong.
"Be mindful of your tone and start your sentence with 'I' instead of 'you', so you don't come across as confrontational."
- TODAY, 7 May 2022
Pandemic Piles on Stress for New Parents
"Marriage is a journey of growth," says Ms Theresa Pong from The Relationship Room. "Take every transition or change as a way for you to learn more about your relationship and grow."
Having a baby does not mean that you have to put your marriage on the backseat. In this article by The Straits Times, Ms Theresa Pong, our Counselling Director, shares with us tips on how to "babyproof" your marriage in this pandemic.
- The Straits Times, 28 Feb 2022
The Best Way to Manage Money in your Relationship, According to a Marriage Counsellor
"Understanding each other’s perspectives can help couples build emotional resilience. With emotional resilience, couples are able to better overcome their differences and work towards a common solution." - Theresa Pong, Founder & Counselling Director, The Relationship Room.
Trying to make sense of every cent in your marriage? In this article by Autumn Life, Theresa will be sharing some tips on how to navigate financial issues in your relationship.
- Autumn Life, 24 Feb 2022
Money Matters in Relationships : Embracing Financial Compatibility
"Have the money conversation even before the marriage. Share your dreams and allow yourself to be vulnerable..." - Theresa Pong, Founder & Counselling Director, The Relationship Room.
The key to a navigating financial issues in a marriage is having a safe communication that allows each other to be vulnerable and share his/her needs.
Join Theresa in the latest episode of Autumn Conversation and find out more about how to communicate with your partner on money issues effectively.
- Autumn Life, 18 November 2021
Adulting 101: How to manage clashes when parents and adult children share a roof
Ms Theresa Pong, counselling director at The Relationship Room, said that it could be helpful for young adults to try to see things from their parents’ perspective — listen to what their concerns really are and try to provide reassurance that their fears are unfounded.
“This is a period where you’re trying to build trust and assurance with them. Once that trust is built, they will be assured that you know how to manage this newfound freedom. Then, slowly over time, they will let go,” she said.
- TODAY, 11 September 2021
Adulting 101: I’m learning to say ‘no’ to friends and family. This has helped improve my relationships with them
Ms Theresa Pong, counselling director at The Relationship Room, said that boundaries are not only useful to protect your own needs, they are also necessary to protect your relationship with others.
“If you don’t keep the boundary and are afraid that you are going to ruin your relationships (by imposing one), you will make things worse because what happens is that when your boundary is being pushed, slowly you will start to have resentment,” she said.
- TODAY, 24 July 2021
Living Better - What Does This Mean & What Are its Practical Applications?
"Live longer. Live better.” We are living longer, but are we truly living better? What does it mean to live better?
Hear from Marital and Family Therapist Theresa Pong, together with other wellness professionals, as she shares her thoughts on “Living Better”, what it means to them and simple steps you can take and apply everyday for a better life.
- Core Conversations by Core Collective, July 2021
How parents can blunt the edge of sibling rivalry among their children
Effective management will help children grow up to become resilient and confident adults, says Ms Theresa Pong, founder and counselling director at The Relationship Room, a private practice that specialises in marital and family counselling.
She advises parents to take the opportunity to coach their squabbling kids in emotional regulation and problem-solving. "When children are able to articulate their emotions and express their needs, they are less likely to act out. And allowing children to work together and own the problem allows them to build confidence and trust, enhancing the sibling relationship."
- The Straits Times, 4 April 2021