Guadalupe Alvarez/Courier - Dr. Amanda Han, Counseling Psychologist, introducing the workshop Maintain Healthy Relationships held in Pasadena City College on February 11, 2016.
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You constantly fight about the smallest things. You feel suffocated and controlled, but you can’t get out. You are blamed for everything. You feel like you can never get a word in. These are just a few examples of the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship that PCC’s Psychological Services is here to help students with.

A workshop designed to help students maintain strong, healthy relationships was held last week by Psychological Services predoctoral intern Ai Nhi Hoang and Dr. Amanda Han.

Hoang provides therapy to college students who have had difficulties with depression and anxiety, stress, and academic performance.

Han is a licensed counseling psychologist who specializes in working with college-aged adults who suffer from test anxiety, have difficulties with major life transition, and are looking for ways to improve the quality of their lives.

The purpose of the workshop was to not only help students be aware of what makes a relationship healthy or unhealthy, but also to encourage them to open up about their own thoughts and experiences regarding relationships with significant others, friends, coworkers, and loved ones.

Hoang and Han touched base on several important aspects of relationships, such as warning signs, cultural differences, and helpful tips on how to keep a relationship healthy.

According to the speakers, the most prevalent warning signs of an unhealthy relationship are one person constantly dominating conversation, playing “the blame game,” or enforcing unfair and controlling relationship conditions. They urge students who recognize these signs in their own relationships to get help or leave the relationship immediately.

Hoang and Han advised students to be understanding of the culture differences of certain relationships, such as the aspects of gender roles that are within different cultures, while also being aware of what is healthy or not healthy.

“It’s good to be mindful of differences in cultures regarding relationships. Be open,” Han said.

The speakers and students openly discussed several ideas on how to maintain a healthy relationship, such as having mutual trust, being respectful, trying to understand the other person, and practicing open communication.

The workshop created an environment of conversation rather than presentation, helping students feel comfortable enough to speak up about their own relationship experiences and connect with those around them.

One particular student, Ka’inoamakua Mandaloniz, was very active in group discussion and greatly enjoyed the workshop.

“I was there because I wanted to learn because I think healthy relationships are important…I learned something new…whenever they have workshops like that I find that that kind of presentation is the best way to learn something,” Mandaloniz said.

The group discussed the different kinds of relationship examples they have had in their lives, highlighting the fact that not all examples are healthy.

They also deeply considered how, despite recent feats towards gender equality, there is still much change to be made regarding gender stereotypes that are negatively affecting all kinds of relationships, such as women being weaker than men and men being expected to show no emotion.

According to Hoang and Han, once we stop listening to the gender stereotypes that society tells us to follow, our relationships with one another will improve exponentially.

The speakers provided students with a helpful packet of how to identify the differences between potentially dangerous characteristics and nourishing, fulfilling characteristics of relationships.

The packet included a sheet on which a Power and Control Wheel as on one side, and Equality Wheel was on the other.

The Power and Control Wheel contains the different ways one can harm the other in a relationship, such as intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, and male privilege.

The Equality Wheel informs one of the traits of a healthy and positive relationship, such as respect, non-threatening behavior, and trust.

Han advised students that one of the most important factors of a healthy relationship of any kind is to remember how you would want the other person to treat you.

“Be a role model of how you want to be treated,” Han said.

They also discussed how young people seem to frequently jump from  a romantic relationship to a  relationship without any real goals or plan in mind, which can potentially lead to either unhealthy or unsuccessful relationships.

“Go into a relationship with a game plan of how to problem solve together,” Hoang advised students.

Though a relationship is usually a two-way street, Hoang and Han hope for students to keep in mind their own needs and desires, taking care of themselves and allowing independence to be a normal part of any relationship they enter.

The Psychological Services’ next workshop will discuss the topic of mental health issues, held on February 25th.

 

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