Marcella Galizia, MA, RPsych
Director, Couples Reconnect
When you are a child, the most important relationship is with your parents.
Then as an adult, your most important relationship is with your spouse or partner.
Relationships are key to how we experience the world, first as children and then as adults
My couples counselling approach as a registered psychologist centres on relationships and healthy, secure attachments.
Although issues of attachment begin in childhood, they often remain undetected and unresolved. We typically become aware of these patterns until we become adults. When they show up in our adult lives, these issues become increasingly impossible to ignore. They tend to emerge in magnified, deeper ways, either in our relationship as a couple or when we become parents ourselves. That’s because attachment patterns have a natural tendency to repeat. Unprocessed trauma impacts our relationships—with the main ones being our partner and children. The effects also compound over time. Without realizing it, we bring additional layers of unhealthy patterns into our current relationship from previous ones.
Something similar happens with trauma (any experience that overwhelms the central nervous system), which each partner’s brain stores in a unique way, within their own neural pathways. Trauma is individualized. This means that even when two people experience a traumatic event simultaneously, it will affect each person in a different way.
My approach to couples counselling can include EMDR therapy
To help couples build secure, healthy connections in their relationship, I typically work through the attachment patterns and childhood trauma with each partner, targeting their individual health and wellness, in preparation for couples therapy.
When couples are ready to process together as a unit, my approach as a couples therapist can involve a specialized therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy. I have training in unique protocols such as the Recent Traumatic Episode Protocol (EMDR R-TEP) and Group Traumatic Episode Protocol (EMDR G-TEP), which allow me to reprocess traumas together as a unit and with both partners present. Using EMDR Therapy in a trauma-centred group protocol has shown me its power to bring a sense of unity, common humanity, closeness, and connection. In the aftermath of a recent traumatic event experienced as a couple, such as infidelity or the loss of a child, EMDR therapy strengthens the couple’s closeness, because the healing is experienced together.
My qualifications as a therapist
I am a registered psychologist with the College of Alberta Psychologists and a member of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA), the Psychologists Association of Alberta (PAA), the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEEFT), and the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA). My qualifications include advanced training for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy, including protocols that can be used with couples or families. I have completed an Externship in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy® and Core Skills Training in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy® with the ICEEFT, and have also trained in Gottman Therapy couples counselling techniques.
Our team approach to couples counselling
At Couples Reconnect, you will have an entire team of couples counsellors to support your relationship.
My business partner Natalie Bergman and I co-founded Couples Reconnect and Kids Reconnect, our private practice child and couples counselling clinics, which are the two branches of Calgary Reconnect Counselling Group. As part of the couples counselling team at Couples Reconnect, I also consult on cases to confirm that couples counselling could be effective.