194: The 10 Habits of Happy Couples with Tina and Michael LeBlanc

Welcome back to The Couples Therapist Couch! This podcast is about the practice of Couples Therapy. Each week, Shane Birkel interviews an expert in the field of Couples Therapy to explore all about the world of relationships and how to be an amazing therapist.

In this episode, we’re talking The 10 Habits of Happy Couples with Tina and Michael LeBlanc. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and your other favorite podcast spots, and watch it on YouTube – follow and leave a 5-star review.

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The Couples Therapist Couch 194: The 10 Habits of Happy Couples with Tina and Michael LeBlanc

Find out more about the Couples Therapist Inner Circle: https://www.couplestherapistcouch.com/inner-circle-new

In this episode, Shane talks with Tina and Michael LeBlanc about their book, The 10 Habits of Happy Couples. Tina and Michael are the wife-husband duo behind Better Yourself 365, where they work exclusively with couples. Hear how they decided to marry each other and work together, their new approach to counseling, the importance of bettering yourself first as an individual, how much they work on their own relationship, and why couples often have shame in seeking therapy.

This episode covers everything from couples therapy to working as a couple. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:

  • Were Tina & Michael therapists or a couple first?
  • Are the 10 habits a linear process?
  • How do Tina & Michael work together?
  • What is EFT certification like?
  • How does Shane think through gaps in his relationship?
  • What is a Safety Seeker?
  • How should you look at coping?
  • What do Barbie & Ken have to do with Tina & Michael?

For more about Better Yourself 365, visit BetterYourself365.com

Check out the episode, show notes, and transcript below: 



 Show Notes


What is The Couples Therapist Couch?

This podcast is about the practice of Couples Therapy. Many of the episodes are interviews with leaders in the field of Relationships. The show is meant to help Therapists and Coaches learn how to help people to deepen their connection, but in the process it explores what is most needed for each of us to love, heal, and grow. Each week, Shane Birkel interviews an expert in the field of Couples Therapy to explore all about the world of relationships and how to be an amazing therapist.

Find out more about the Couples Therapist Inner Circle: https://www.couplestherapistcouch.com/inner-circle-new


 Please note: this transcript is not 100% accurate.

Michael LeBlanc 0:00
We're not pretending like we're this Barbie and Ken. I don't even know what their relationship is like. We're pretending we got it all figured out a couple. Yeah, and we've used a lot of, we've had to, you know, we've gone through our own difficulties in our marriage, and we've had to really work at this. So from that we can extract some of the things that we really learned from this. And as a result, we're just more aligned.

Shane Birkel 0:25
Welcome to Episode #194 of The Couples Therapist Couch.

Welcome to The Couples Therapist Couch, the podcast for couples therapists, marriage counselors and relationship coaches to explore the practice of couples therapy, and now your host, Shane Birkel.

Everyone welcome back to The Couples Therapists Couch. This is your host, Shane Birkel. And this is the podcast that's all about the practice of couples therapy. Thank you so much for tuning in. If you enjoy the episode and you want to be part of a community, then definitely join the couples therapist couch Facebook group that's completely free. Obviously, you can always join the couples therapist inner circle, which is the paid basically an amazing supervision group where we talk about couples therapy, therapists ask questions. There's a ton of course material on working with affairs working with Emotionally Focused Therapy, doing relational life therapy, all kinds of different course material that you can get access to. And I'm really excited I'm I'm sort of revamping the whole inner circle, there's a new business option, which is about building your couples therapy practice, which could be an add on to the clinical side of things, if that's something that's a good fit for you. So go over to the website and check it out, you can get a lot more details and information. I don't want to take too much time talking about it here on the podcast. But it's something you should definitely take a look at if it feels like that could be a good fit for you. Today, I was able to catch up with Tina and Michael LeBlanc. They are therapists, teachers and authors of the book The 10 habits of happy couples. And I was really excited to do this interview with them. They talk a lot about how they incorporate education into their work with couples. And I think it's a really good idea. As far as you know, when we work with couples in therapy, there's only so much we can accomplish. And usually I don't want to take too much time doing the educational piece even though it's essential and extremely important. They create the educational side of things that the couple can watch in between sessions. That way they can focus on the things that they need to do in therapy when they get to therapy. The other really cool thing is that Michael and Tina are actually a married couples. So it's fun to listen to them talk about trying these things out in their own relationship and working together as they work with couples. So without further introduction, here is the interview with Tina and Michael Leblanc. Everyone welcome back to the couples therapists couch. This is Shane Berkel and today I'm speaking with Tina and Michael LeBlanc, therapists, teachers and authors of the book, The 10 habits of happy couples. Hey, Tina and Michael, welcome to the show. Shane Shane, thanks for having us. Yeah, absolutely. I'm really excited to talk to you about the book today. But why don't you tell everyone a little bit more about yourself.

Michael LeBlanc 3:35
We're both couples therapists, as you noted, so I've been practicing for about 20 years. I work mainly in nonprofit organization doing counseling. But Tina and I obviously have this company that we own together as well. And we work a lot more mainly with couples in this in this work. My work individually is mainly with individuals. But I have an EFT background. So that's what kind of uses in our couples work. But I use it with individuals so it's like a nice fit for us where I can work with the individuals who can one one of the spouses who needs some work and using the same concepts as a couples EFT but individually done. So yeah, that's mainly the work I do. I use a lot of ifs as well. And but then we we do things together with our company for couples, and that's where my couples work comes in. And we should

Tina LeBlanc 4:32
know too that we're also husband and wife married.

Michael LeBlanc 4:35
Yeah. Brother, sister, great.

Tina LeBlanc 4:39
Parents, two teenage boys. Yeah, that's pretty much our life first. Yeah, yeah. Business comes. Yeah.

Shane Birkel 4:46
I'm curious. Were you a therapist first or were you in a relationship as a couple first?

Tina LeBlanc 4:51
We were therapists first. Yeah, I first met men at that stage where Michael was just finishing up his degree. Yeah. Oh, and I was working at the time already. And yeah, so

Michael LeBlanc 5:04
therapist, friend of ours introduced us. Nothing about therapists.

Tina LeBlanc 5:10
And that's 20 years ago. So when we met, we were the very beginning, he had just finished his master's program, and I had just been a year in therapy, doing therapy at that point. So, yeah, although he's older than me, but he's had

Michael LeBlanc 5:23
a career before that.

Tina LeBlanc 5:26
Right. Yeah. So yeah, so we, when we met, we never anticipated that we'd actually have a business together, you know, 20 years later. But, you know, life, life happens in mysterious ways. We all always share that common interest, obviously, of counseling, but really our business, our business called better yourself 365. And that unfolded during COVID, actually, because at that point, I was already in private practice, and had a small private practice. I was also consultant. So it's like halftime private practice, but all my clients had become just naturally, couples. At some point, I wasn't seeing any individuals, they were all couples, because it was doing more and more EFT, training, Emotionally Focused Therapy has been my, my approach from the very beginning and become a certified therapist and supervisor in the approach. So I'm, I'm pretty deep in that approach. And I absolutely love it, I find it's amazing approach. And I always, I always feel very grateful for Sue Johnson, who started to create that approach and how she's impacted so many couples, because of her her initiative there. So I think because of that, and just started to get more and more referrals for couples therapy, and during COVID. You know, as you know, like every other couples therapist that's listening or practice started to be impacted, couples started to not come in. A lot of them weren't open to doing online counseling. Initially, online clients, counseling was hard to figure out for us, it was a new, new avenue. And so we decided to look at other ways to reach couples. And initially, I was thinking of that on my own, because that was what I was doing on my private practice. But I got so like, so passionate about it, that Michael was just like, hey, like, why don't we do that together? Like, you know, like we could do the couples work outside of couples counseling, which is, you know, has continued to be my thing. But everything else that we were talking, talking about doing with the business to reach couples and other ways and counseling. We were like, yeah, like, that just felt right. And then from the very start, it just was like a right decision. And it just felt really, like we're on. We're on par When we're together doing the stuff. So we started with weekend retreats for couples, that's how we started, we were doing them online, initially during COVID, and then we decided to just, you know, we got all this equipment, got all these training on how to deliver online courses. And we were, you know, teachers when this was our first trade. So we had that part pretty naturally. So we started developing online courses, and we, you know, develop videos and the whole curriculum for couples to do some work on their own from home. And that's how we started it went from that to Hey, like, we have so much content here, let's write a book. And it just unfolded from that thing after thing. And we started to really like during COVID to be like, socially present to Sir on social platforms. You know, like, we'd started to deliver like life, live Facebook sessions and YouTube videos and blogs, and we just, we had more free time during that period to initially anyways, and then we got really busy. And then yeah, really? Yeah, too busy. At some point, I burned out in the process at some point in our, in our early stages of business. But, but everything just just because we were so passionate about it, just wanted to do it all. We did too much like all at once. But it's been great to have that component of where our business so for couples now. Yeah. And it's it's shaped also my approach to couples counseling. I

Michael LeBlanc 9:19
mean, there's a lot of things people can therapists can do to support their, their clients. You know, one of the things that we learned is that people do get engaged with video work, especially outside of our sessions. It is a way to capture some of their and their passion about wanting to move forward and make changes in their lives. But a lot of them really don't know what to do with between sessions. So that was the premise of our book, How to support couples in a way where they could do it on their own without us because we know that a lot of them depend on some of their critical work until they come into our office. Is there waiting for that. So a lot of our work is done teaching them skills that they can learn, and that will become habits in their life in between our sessions or after our work is done. So that's really been a lot of the focus of our, of our company outside of private practice.

Shane Birkel 10:16
Yeah, that's great, because I feel like, you know, oftentimes, we work with couples, and hopefully, we're doing, you know, good work, that's helpful to them. But, you know, I feel like, there's not a lot of education out there for couples about what a good what a healthy or a happy or good relationship looks like. And, you know, there's only so much time we have when we're working with people, one on one in session, so I can see how that would be super beneficial to give them more resources and more support and education, you know, between sessions,

Tina LeBlanc 10:47
and that you hit the nail on the head there into how we were thinking, especially with my couples counseling approach, which was kind of like an aftermath of everything else we were doing for couples together, it was just like, wow, this is like, how can I use this to maximize my work with clients in session. And one thing, you know, even though I always loved EFT therapy, a big part of the premise of that is that, you know, when you work with emotion, the emotion and attachment, the work is very experiential, the changes are very experiential in session, and there's a shift that happens in session and the premises, couples then continue. Because that shift is happening in session, they continue expanding on that in between sessions, right, they start, there's a softening that happens. So they start to, to be more conscious of how they move in with their partner. It changes their dynamic, which I agree it happens. Absolutely. But I always felt that some couples grabbed onto that faster than others. And some other couples, especially couples who had one partner, or both, sometimes that were I'll call it emotional IQ. But more like people who maybe had childhood emotional neglect growing up, which I'm sure you see in your offices is very, very present and common. And I always felt like those couples needed a bit more, they need a bit more tangible concreteness of how do I keep, like, I don't know what happened in session, I don't recognize what I did different, right? And how do I know what to do in between sessions. And so it was more in that lens, trying to have it, you bring the experience in session outside of session, and then we had all these videos and content that we had developed, I decided to really change my approach to counseling. And is it okay, if I just tell you what it looks like now, definitely. Because it's more of a therapy slash coaching approach that I have now. Yeah. It's like when couples sign up, they have a commitment that they make, they commit to 10 sessions, they pay in advance for the 10 sessions. And they commit to doing work in between sessions, every single time, like in between, see each other every two weeks. And before they sign up for that I meet with them for an hour console call and make sure it's free, I make sure that, you know, I get a good sense of what their need needs are and that they're ready to do this kind of intensive work, because it's really intensive. And it's not that I say that after 10 session, you're all good to go. It's just that I say you need to give yourself at least 10 sessions to give your relationship a chance to see progress. Yeah. And even though I might have said that, before this program, people would still like when it gets really hard, or they don't see the progress fast enough, or one partner was on the fence and you know, like, get scared of the emotional stuff that's coming up. They sometimes would exit before they got to the 10 sessions, right? It wasn't that common, but it would happen. So this is kind of like this mindset that you're in this together, you're giving it at least 10 sessions. And you're doing all this work in between sessions. So what it does is that it creates accountability in that that's one of the coaching parts. We don't do that as therapists we, we give them that freedom, right and says, you know, do you want to see this again, next session, right, like in this this total flexibility, which, which I appreciate, but the couples that I see now are they're ready to do hard work. And I screen for that. They're with me 90 minutes in session, like we do an hour and a half sessions every two weeks for five months. In session. It's hardcore therapy. Like I go deep. I go fast, much more than before because they're doing all this work in between sessions. They're listening to videos, they're doing an exercise together. They're risking, they're taking risks, right? That are guided, like it's a structured risk in the sense that they're both told, you know, okay, we'll try this this week, and it's structured. And I build upon every session and it gets a little bit more, you know, the challenge or the risk, taking the emotional risk taking the increases a bit. And by the end of the 10, sessions, you know, then they make a decision on what they want to do. Do they feel like this has been helpful, and they want to continue and engage for another 10 sessions? Or do they feel like, you know, I think we have enough for us to continue practicing and feel confident we can do that. That never used to happen to me, after 10 sessions, so I don't know about you, but my average was, like 1516, at least, if not 20. Before couples would stop. Yeah,

Shane Birkel 15:53
that's great. Well, thanks for your time talking about, you know, I think what happens with a lot of therapists is that, especially when people have a lot of trauma, that people are coming in week after week, and the therapist might be doing really good work deep work. But the the, there's not, maybe not a lot of transparency about what's happening, and why this is making, you know, gonna make your life better in the long run. So, there's a lot of trust from the client, hopefully, that I hope this is going to make things better. But, you know, what I see with couples is sometimes there's people who have really good intentions, and they're still struggling with certain things. And so if we can teach them here, here's what you can try with your partner this week, you know, to try to start practicing, you know, and I feel like, that's what you're, you know, you're creating an experience, which is like, you know, these 10 sessions with all this education in between, and there are things, it feels like a lot more transparent what you're doing in the process, and there are things that they can be working on. And, you know, even identifying like, Well, I was trying to communicate better, but it got really hard. That's really good information, like whatever they're learning from you, even if they can't do it like that helps you for sort of focus in on why why was that so difficult and helps you in the next therapy session with them?

Tina LeBlanc 17:17
That's exactly it, Shane, because it's not that the homework than they do. We call that homework, but you know, the work on their relationship in between sessions. It's not that it's always easy. And, you know, I'd say half the couples might, you know, get blocks at one point in another in the process, but that's what we use then in therapy. And we can dive in into those blocks faster, because it's like the, the wrist a token between session flared up, what's important to look at, it's like, it gives you a mirror right there. It's like, okay, this is important, right, and the structure of it. I hear a lot of people like in the couple, especially the couple, the partners that are more withdrawn by nature, and then more than withdraw in the relationship, they maybe don't feel as confident confident in their skills around tuning in emotionally, being accessible emotionally to their partner. It's a foreign language and going to repair and maybe you can speak to this because your withdrawal by nature, the we don't call

Michael LeBlanc 18:23
us withdraw our we don't use that word.

Tina LeBlanc 18:27
We've changed a word in our book, we changed

Michael LeBlanc 18:28
some of the terms of EFT as one of the things that are not the sidetracker. But it's one of the things that as a couple who practice the same approach, and apply it to our own relationship, you can take a hard look at is it applicable to me because it's great when you read it in the book and you say, you should you guys should try this. This makes sense. But then we get to try it on a daily basis ourselves and get the say, I don't know if I like that, you know, Sue Johnson smart, but I don't like that term. So we changed it in our book, we changed some of the terms to make it because I've always felt the word withdraw or distance or or avoider. It has a negative connotation to it. But then you have pursuer which, which is the other side. Oh wow. I'm a pursuer. Isn't that great? Oh, I'm gonna withdraw or isn't that terrible? So we changed it to connection seeker, which is the pursuer and safety seeker, which is what you are because hits the nose on the ad hits, what it is I'm doing, why you're doing the reason why I'm doing it what I'm attaining, rather than like getting away from her What am I approaching? So anyway, just just a side note on just that just the language itself, as we know in therapy makes a big difference.

Tina LeBlanc 19:49
Yeah, and that safety seeking nature of one of the partners in the relationship is afraid of conflict, right like so. Any whisper conflict is going to be extremely scary, as I'm sure you've seen in your offices too. And it might stop them from going back to repair. And often it does. And so it leaves this pressure on the other partner to try to initiate repair. And that that in itself can cause conflict. So too, for me to hear couples coming back after they've learned about the repair process. And I break it down into like, really manageable chunks, right? We talked about that in the trainings that we do together. And they come back and they say, wow, like that was so liberating for me to actually know what I'm supposed to try to be doing here to have a, they see it as like a tool, a map, like something that gives them that helps with that anxiety that they feel around, especially when they know their partner is speaking the same language, and they're trying to do this together in the same way. So it's kind of stuff for me that's just been so fascinating.

Michael LeBlanc 20:59
And it's resonant resonates with people really resonates with people that giving them a road specific roadmap of how to do that thing when we're not there. You know, because a lot of people like, well, I thought that Tina said we're supposed to do this. And the other partner says, That's not what I thought we're supposed to do. My My thought was that, but when you have basically what looks like what appears like another session through Tina's videos that she does with her clients in between sessions, so she gives them videos, and some of you saying, this is the educational piece, this is what your activity is, you go do it. And then when you come back next week to counseling, we'll have a conversation about it. So they, it feels like an extra session, because it's her again, it's us, you know, so then they know exactly what they're supposed to be working on. And it all starts to line up for them. And they really resonate, because obviously their progress starts is even better than it was before and your approach

Tina LeBlanc 21:59
and you don't have to race and not waste that's something right word, but you don't have to spend any time in session on on the the psycho educational pieces because because we know especially in EFT when you're you're trying so hard to stay focused on emotion, and sometimes you you have to run after the emotion because they keep trying to escape it and then they come back, come back. And you know that if you start to do you see some educational pieces, and sometimes you're tempted to go there, and if you do, you're likely going to it's going to be harder to bring it back, you might be drawn down the rabbit hole as Sue talks about, you know, you're gonna get caught in the content and go down the rabbit hole. And then at the end of the session, you didn't get the experiential piece that you wanting them to have. Right? Yeah, they get all this education outside of the session, more than you could ever even touch in session anyways. And it brings them at a different at a different place. And we're now like, we're now healing injuries in session eight, nine, you know, we talking about past hurts. I never used to be able to do that before session like 1516. Like it was just too hard. It was too hard. And they weren't ready to do that work. And yeah, it's just really fascinating. I've been very, it's been very fulfilling to see the the changes happening at a different pace of commitment that the couples have in mind you I remind you that I screen for couples, right, like, Yeah, so right, that are ready to do this work that work with us. That's

Shane Birkel 23:28
great. That's great. And I have a question. You know, there's the 10 habits of happy couples. And, sure, that's a big part of what the educational stuff that you teach in the course material that you have as well. And it but I'm wondering, you know, is that? Does that feel like a linear process for the people? You know, we're week one, they're going through section one and then and so on? Or is it sort of like in the first session, you're like, Oh, you guys really need to go look at Section five, struggling with this thing in particular or something? How does that how does that work with the habits that you're helping them with between sessions and everything?

Tina LeBlanc 24:09
That is a very good question. Actually. It's interesting because I would say the program that they do in between sessions is more based on EFT. So it's less linear. It's more like foundational stuff that they need to they need to know about attachment they need to know about, you know, the cycle and their role in it their typical role, they need to understand what their triggers look like and how to help each other with their triggers. Right they need they need to know how to exit from their cycle. They need to know how to repair properly. They need to know about talk, how to talk about their their hurts and their injuries in a way that their partner can support them. That's the kind of stuff that they have built in session per session, but the 10 habits are presented to them before they even come into their first session. They have Have a preparation assignment to do before they even come in. So they, that's where they get 10 habits. That's where they get like the because we see the 10 habits as more this overall picture of what you have to have in your mind when you're navigating your relationship. And no couple can do that effectively 100% all the time, like you're constantly, you know, weaving in and out some habits are, you know, more your focus for a period of time, and then some others can, can take precedence. But the habits as a whole are presented to them. Before we have you know, this video where we go through all the 10 habits, some some clients read our book before they come in, but it's certainly not a

Michael LeBlanc 25:45
crash course based on our book. Yeah, 90 minutes. Basically, we basically give our book to them in 90 minutes. Yeah, and some of those are the concepts team is working on. Those are like habits 123, there's we start from 10, and work our way down. But three to one are some of the core of what she does in our couples work with some attachment at the at the introduction of the book. So the question of is it linear? No, it's not. But all of it is already, they already know it all before they not only they've already been exposed to the habits, and then some of them that we're working on, but the majority of their EFT content of the book, you'll find it in three to one

Tina LeBlanc 26:29
in habits, habits, because the habits 321 are about helping couples navigate conflict and deepen their connection, those are the the habits that are focused specifically on that which is linked to what they come in for, which is the therapy side of it, right. But it doesn't mean that that's all they have to manage, it's not just conflict in their relationship they're trying to get at, right, they're trying to build those other habits that are more part of, you know, being on as a team and being on the same page with things and, you know, setting goals together and enjoying their life together. And so that's why I like to expose them to all of that, to have them thinking about it in that way. Especially because the very first habit they're exposed to is better yourself first. That is probably I'd say the most aha moment for at least one member of my couples, you know, one partner couples coming in, because it's like, it puts the focus on them. It's like, okay, we're doing couples therapy here, you're working on your relationship. But if you don't take a look at yourself, and if you don't see the parts of yourself that you need to improve rowing, you will never really get your relationship where you want it to be. And we know this as couples therapists, right, we can be like the best couples therapists in the world, and progress with the couple to a certain degree, and then you'll get stuck somewhere, there's like a, what's it called the plateau plateau, I should know that's a French word. Plateau. And often if the if one of the partners or both of the partners often aren't ready to do some individual work to work on their own coping and their own self regulation, they're going to have a harder time co regulating together. There has to be that work on themselves, at some point in order to bring your relation where you want to be. But before this before this, this new way of working with clients, for me, that was as I don't know, if you feel that way in your sessions, but sometimes that's very delicate thing to bring up. There's like a self awareness that needs to happen. You put your white gloves on, you know, and you present Well, you know, okay, we keep getting to this place. We're stuck here. You know, what do you think is happening here? Right? What if there was more work done individually here to help us? Like, let's bring on I would present it before it's let's let's bring on more team members, to our team, and maybe working with an individual therapist might help us get unstuck here, right. Like it process to bring up?

Shane Birkel 29:12
And yeah, definitely because you feel like it's because at that point, that one partner feels ashamed that we're, we're we're basically saying You're the problem you need. Yeah, I promise. I've had that moment many times in couples therapy, where it's obvious that that's where we're at in the moment. But um, people out sometimes have a hard time hearing that course.

Tina LeBlanc 29:36
Yeah. And it's hard. It's hard to bring that up and exactly for us and Shane, right. Because we don't want them to feel like we're it's enough that their spouse is saying You're the problem, right? I don't want to be perceived as the therapists also saying, well, maybe this is part of the problem. We don't hear that you are the problem, right? When we're trying to say this is part of the cycle. This is part you know, Well, your PTSD or your depression or your ADHD, or whatever it is, it's just part of the cycle, right? Because it's a challenge that you have just like we all have a challenge, right? It just shows up differently. And

Michael LeBlanc 30:14
that's the explanation to the person who feels like, they are told that that's a problem, then there's the other side, which is the person who's saying, You're the problem, when better yourself first is the first thing that they read, then it's implied that you also have a contribution to the problems in this marriage, or whatever the relationship is. So what is your part in a two, and then the partner who was feeling it's always my fault, gets to see that, yes, my partner also has things to work on. It's not just all of my work in this, in this therapy that we're going to do together. And probably a lot of times it's the men, or it's the it's the kind of safety seeker of the group, who's like, it's always my, it's always me working on stuff. And I know even from a connect, connect, because I'm a, I'm a safety seeker. So I know, it always feels like oh, I have these things to work on. But in our relationship, Tina owns her parts, and because are aware of that, but in a lot of a lot of relationships, one person's not one person saying you need to do this work. And when you do that, we're going to be better. So let's go to counseling, so you can work on that thing. And also, the better yourself first implies that both people are working on their stuff, that's the only way it's going to work.

Tina LeBlanc 31:36
And that's why we chose that name for our business. Even though we're a business that works with couples, our business called Better Yourself 365. So it's tying in the idea that when you're coming in, to work on your on your relationship, you better be thinking about not how you're going to change your partner, but how you're going to change yourself first. And that changes in you know, changing your personality or anything like that, like change, hearing what your partner has to say, and really seeing how, without wanting to there's an impact in how you respond to your partner, or how you come in with your partner. And so yeah, so that's Better Yourself 365, you know, it's part of our business, it's that it's that premise, plus it ties into 365, which is habits, things that you know, you have to focus relationships is not something you achieve the goal of improving your relationships. That's something you know, it's a goal there and you achieve it at one point, it's like something you always are working through, right. So yeah, so that's a big part of our messaging. And when couples come to that very first session, they've had this messaging already, they've talked about it, they had an exercise where they had to talk about their strengths that they see when they think of the 10 habits of happy couples, and where they feel their biggest challenges are, and they bring that to me right in that first session. Like, this is where I think we need to focus on the most. Yes, a couple. today. Tell me. Yeah,

Shane Birkel 33:05
I'm wondering, for the two of you, going through this process of creating something together, you know, you have your each of your own therapy experiences, the way that you work, you both work differently, you know, with different people, you have your own relationship where you've learned a lot, I'm sure, over time. And so as you're sort of writing the book and creating the course material, you know, what was that process like and working together?

Michael LeBlanc 33:33
Well, it's the best part of our business. Working together. I think we both I can't speak for Tina, but I know she said, yeah, so it's the best part of our businesses working together. And then, but we just, we just seem to be aligned a lot. And kind of what how we see things and what we want out of the business. And, and I think we also see our relationship as a laboratory to try some of the things, some of the ideas that you have, because sometimes you have an idea. It's like, oh, I think couples would really like this. And then we apply it to our own life. It's like, maybe that's not going to work. And you know, in fact, it was funny, but the last, the last podcast we did we had a fight that morning before we you know, that's one of the things they're like, we're not pretending like we're this Barbie. And can I say, I don't even know what their relationship is, like, we're pretending you got her all figured out a couple. Yeah, and we've used a lot of, we've had to, you know, we've gone through our own difficulties in our marriage, and we've had to really work at this. From that we can extract some of the things that we really learned from this. And as a result, we're just more aligned. And so therefore it's been kind of surprisingly easy, you know, together. It's just it takes a lot of work to build a business and we're always trying to fix the like, definitely stressful but in turn, but not because our relationship chip has suffered, it actually has deepened as a result of it, because think about it, like, if all you do all day long is therapy, and talk about how to improve your relationship, and then you have a business where that's all you do is talk about the dynamics, the concepts, the experiences of how to improve your relationship, that's what we talk about all day long is how to improve your relationship. So, of course, our relationship improves, because that's what we work on all day in our business. And so, you know, as a result, it's kind of been one of the great parts of our relationship.

Tina LeBlanc 35:33
Yeah, and I think that also, we've never shied away from being able to show our, our vulnerable side our authenticity with couples. And, to me, that's something that's been very special, because you can't do that as a therapist, right? You can't, you know, as a therapist in session, you're limited, it's about them, right, and you don't want to get the focus off of them. We know we have a skill called the self with a goal of self disclosure, you know, they use was used sporadically, in skillfully and, you know, to help like, you know, to help bring, bring upon at depth of understanding for the couple, and then you move on. But in our, you know, in the educational part of our business, the videos or trainings we've developed for couples, the every time we do a while in our book, you see it, we bring our story, a personal personal story, because like Michael said, you know, we've had challenges too. I mean, we both come in with attachment that wasn't secure attachments, for different reasons that yours more family related ly more relationship related. And so, so we had to deal with that we had to deal with me being an anxious pursuer, and

Michael LeBlanc 37:02
being risk averse, mostly at risk. Yeah. And

Tina LeBlanc 37:06
it's caused, you know, we've gone through a period of really close to three years of very, very stressed stressful things in our life that just kept happening, you know, one thing after another and big things, you know, like, losing a child and losing a parent and delivering emergency, you know, two months early for her son, and just things that test. Yeah, and it's just what it was just like one after another after another. And, as we know, I'm sure you see this with your couples, too, that often it's where even the strongest of couples, even if they had a real strong connection from the start of their relationship, when they're hit with those stressors. Right, that's when they start to feel shaky. They they don't cope as well, individually in

Michael LeBlanc 37:56
itself, and then kind of cope on their own.

Tina LeBlanc 37:59
Yeah. And, and that period of time was when I got really even more anxious and avoidant myself, which was new to me, because I did not want you to see how much anxiety was happening with me. Right? It said, that vulnerable part, right. And often, that's what couples see and feel. And so it's been really nice for us to connect with couples on that personal level. And I think that's part of our brand. That's part of why couples respond to us. And I've seen that even even with couples that I see, like, we definitely see that in our couples with our weekend retreats, you know, and it just, it just helps them open up right from the start. It's like, okay, here's to counseling therapists, couples, counseling therapists, and

Michael LeBlanc 38:46
they have to work on their relationship every single day.

Tina LeBlanc 38:49
Right? So yeah, yeah. So

Michael LeBlanc 38:53
we want them to see themselves in us, I guess. And it's interesting how much shame or embarrassment there is for couples who need help. Yeah, just, you know, you in your work, it's, you know, sometimes one story often wants sometimes to are not sure this is what they should be doing just for a host of reasons. In fact, when we go, when we go do a book signing, it's really interesting to watch, like, here. Here's our book, though. This book is on the shelf, or on the table, and we're Tina and I are sitting at the table, whatever bookstore it is, we'll see we'll just see the dynamic of people walking by. And you can see, so many times people will look, they'll see the title of the book, they'll be able to partner, their eyes will hit the ground, and they'll scoot by the table, because they do not want anybody thinking that their relationship that's in trouble that might need help. So they like hide and they'll go and they'll not come back. Then you've got another couple who's like, hey, yeah, we whatever we We went through Thalassotherapy before, and then what's your book all about? But also many times couples are, they just have this sense of shame, about coming for help. So we want to make sure we try to reduce that sense in them and all in our work that we do. And, and, and we simply do it by being honest about what, well, how hard we have to work to. And it's we're not we're not trying to pretend, in fact, the less we pretend the better it goes, and more couples can see. Yeah,

Shane Birkel 40:29
yeah. And I think that's when the, the self disclosure can be so helpful and validating for people to sort of see that, you know, even though you're experts, you know, you still struggle with the same things. And, and also, like, you know, I would take, I would take your word for things better if I knew if I knew you're a safety seeker, for example. And I'm also that and you're saying, Well, I know these things work really well for me. When I feel stuck, then, you know, it really resonates. Absolutely. Thanks

Michael LeBlanc 41:02
for using that word. Yeah.

Shane Birkel 41:03
Yeah. Yeah. I like that. I like that. That's good. As

Tina LeBlanc 41:10
you say that, Shane, I think like, you know, if I think of the couples therapists that are perhaps listening to this here, you know, there's been times where, when we were going through our hard stuff in our relationship, you know, I remember I was in the process of, of trying to work towards certification as an EFT therapist during the time, I was right deep knee deep in that. And I felt like a fraud. I felt like a fraud as a therapist, because it's like, here, I am helping other couples. And I'm going home, and we're, you know, we're fighting more than ever, and I'm scared, right? I'm scared of, you know, not being able to exit out of that cycle. Because when you're in it, you don't, even if your therapist, you don't really see it happening in the moment all the time. Sometimes it takes a while for you to recognize, wow, okay, we're really spinning here, like, what do we do about this? Right? And that's the conversation we had to had at some point, like, Okay, what do we do here? Right. That's at that point that you started to do the EFT training came back different than,

Michael LeBlanc 42:18
well, I came back and informed man, you know, and it's interesting, because I know, as I said, I don't do couples therapy. And we were talking before, like you need to be, you need to be genuine when we're doing our work as therapists. I think as with Tina as the connection seeker, she's just much more knowledgeable about the gaps of our relationship. And she pays attention to those more. And she tries to close the gap more, we use this concept of like a mat, we call our connection mat. And basically, what we want to do in therapy and couples therapy is to get both both people on the mat at the same time. And this is where they truly can hear and see each other. But we have barriers to getting on the mat. So as a connection seeker, she's always on the mat. She's always on the mat reaching over to my side saying, Come on on the mat with me, like, let's talk about our life together. And let's work on stuff and like, you know, let's do hard things and share her vulnerable side. I don't sound like that. No, no, not literally. Right. Right. She, she lives on the mat. I, I am thinking about going on that. But not always on the mat. So because the mat is scary, as a safety secret, I'm seeking safety safety's off the mat. So I need to learn how to first have Tina, step off the mat so I can get on because it's safer that way, then I'll invite her on the mat. Now we're both on the mat kind of thing. So I guess my point is, because she's so knowledgeable about the dynamics of relationship and how to what's going on in it, it makes sense that she does couples therapy for me, genuinely, that I don't always notice. Am I on the mat? Am I not on the mat? Is she on the mat? Like what? Where's the mat? I can't find it. So my work has to be with individuals, because that's what I really get. I get the individual experience. She's so knowledgeable about the dynamic between two people that it makes sense that that's what she does. So that's one of the reasons I think, because I was trying to think like, why don't I do couples work as couples therapy? I think just because I don't always notice that stuff. But she just automatically understands like, okay, we're not on the mat. We need to spend time together, Honey, let's sit down and have a conversation about x. And for me, it's like I hadn't even thought of x. And okay, so let's do so I think it's not my natural thing to be doing couples therapy, but my natural thing is to work with the individuals because that is an experience I can Fuel on my own that I know is true and genuine. And I can speak to not just by reading a book, but this is my experience. So in particular, with the safety seekers. So while we do our weekend retreats, we split people off, and Tina will take their connection seekers and I will take the safety seekers. And I feel like I'm right in my element there because this, just like you said, like, Okay, everybody, we got us all together. That connection seeker was always trying to yank you on the mat. Oh, that's

Tina LeBlanc 45:31
what you're talking about, though. Like, even though you might not feel, I think that can be developed with right therapist. But even though you might not feel that your place is doing couples counseling itself, you're very natural to do the educational component and to bring in your experience individually, but at your experience with us as a couple when I do the retreats when we do the the psycho educational programs for couples.

Michael LeBlanc 45:56
It's not my preference to do couples therapy, because I think we all are, we should and are allowed to decide where what we think we're really want to be doing and what makes me you know, so I think the individual work in therapy wise, that's it? Yeah. Although I am taking a hard look at the servant counseling, because that I think would be a good fit for me. But so your safety seeking marriage therapist, as a safety seeker, do you have the experience of having maybe not noticing the gaps in your relationship? I don't I don't even know if you have a partner? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Have you noticed those? Yeah. So

Shane Birkel 46:38
I feel like for me, personally, I tend to think everything is fine. So I'm coming from that assumption a lot. And so I'll miss a miss things. I'll miss where my wife is, like, you know, I can you believe this, and this and this. And I'm like, Oh, I didn't even really notice it. You know. So I think that's one of the big things for me is like just sort of like not being conscious of, you know, what might be going on with other people's experiences, including hers. So it takes a lot of communication, right, it takes and, you know, I have had to work very hard on my listening skills as well. And trying to be present and trying to like, take in her reality and realize that I can hold that and it doesn't have like, I don't have to be defensive about it, let's say, you know, I can, I can just listen and try to take that in without it being about me, or something like that. But that's the goal.

Michael LeBlanc 47:38
That's a beautiful gift to your wife, to be able to be with her be present with her without your own stuff. Getting Yeah,

Shane Birkel 47:45
not sure if I've accomplished it. Yeah, but that's nobody

Tina LeBlanc 47:51
to pursue or to, for this the connection secret because, you know, like, they'll part of the habits that we try to help couples have in between sessions is just that awareness, right? Because, yeah, so you're talking about that awareness of the safety seeker needs to have to be able to tune in to their partner like that. But the connection seeker has to have a different kind of awareness. Because, you know, for many years until you started to be more affirmative, and, you know, stand up for yourself, for lack of better word, identify my needs, identify your needs. Yeah, that's more than that's better than standing up. Because that's if you're coming in. But until you start to tell me, you know, make me aware of my move that I wasn't even aware of right, until you started to tell me, you know, did you notice that I was trying to tell you what I needed right there. And now we're talking about your need. Like, because as connection seekers, we're very much tuned in to our stuff. Yeah. And we It doesn't mean that we're not tuned into our partner, but it can it because our partner is more kind of won't force it as much as we do. It's easy to just lose sight of it, and just go back to ourself. Right. So that's part of the cycle is that the Kinect? The safety seeker tends to go back. Right and, okay, well, maybe I'm just gonna tune in here. And I'll, I'll step back a little bit. And if we if the other partner doesn't notice that happening,

Michael LeBlanc 49:29
space feels good. Yeah, yeah. So it's like, I'm telling Tina, like, oh, this thing happened. And I'm really having a hard time with it. And as she said, like, five minutes later, we're talking about her experience. And then I don't even think it's a wrong thing. I just go along. I just went along with it and said, well, it feels good to be supporting my wife. So this one as it was her, and then the more work I do is like, okay, that thing happened. Oh, thing that just happened, if I don't tell her how she's supposed to know. So that's my work as a safety seeker to notice it, and verbalize it. So she could say, I didn't know I was even doing that. And I never intended to cause any harm by that. But now we have an opportunity to make a shift. And that's the kind of depths I think that all of our pieces of our business together has been showing me is that I need to hear it multiple times to really get it you know, and and sometimes it's different for forms to like, some are videos, some are books, and some was talking to her and some was working with my clients are like, oh, gosh, that's the thing that I need to do, I need to step on the mat. So identify my needs to hurt me stepping on the mat, and telling her like, could you do this instead? That's me on the mat. And of course, what does Tina wants, she wants me on the mat. But my my safety seeking a mind says that's called a caused conflict. And please don't do that, because that's bad. So what I know that we have a strategy for repair, which is in our book, and we talk about a lot in our stuff, step by step by step by step. I'm a man, I want to know what the steps are, because it doesn't come naturally to me, and I'm totally generalizing here. But as a safety seeker, I didn't know how to do it, I didn't know how to repair. So we have a process of repair, I have a printed, it's by my bedside table. Because when we get into a fight, and I need to go do my work, I need to know what the steps are, because I can't remember, she probably had them committed from you know, 10 minutes after figuring out what they were, because that's just the way your brain works. Not me. So I have to read them over. Okay, what am I supposed to do first? Okay, tune into your own emotions. Okay. You know, I just need that. And I think our clients need that. They need sometimes the step by step approach, so they can practice it over and over. And before you know what you don't need to piece of paper anymore. Yeah.

Shane Birkel 51:54
Yeah, this is so incredibly helpful. How can people find out more about you? And where can they find out about the book and your website and everything else you want to share? About? Where they can find more? Find out more?

Tina LeBlanc 52:07
Yeah, well, certainly. Information on the book. I mean, the book is available on Amazon or any any major bookstore. And on our website, the better yourself 360 five.com.

Michael LeBlanc 52:24
It's called The 10 Habits of Happy Couples. Yeah, the book, by the way. Yeah.

Tina LeBlanc 52:29
And if, I mean, obviously, the book is a good way for couples to start making those connections for themselves into what they need to keep focused on. But if if therapists are interested in having that component of of asking couples to do work in between sessions, often what's available to us right now, as couples therapists, a big part of what's available are workbooks, right, like exercises, things like that. But if couples are If couples therapists are interested in including some of that for clients, and see for themselves, what the impact can be, we do have our digital training that we have for couples set up for couples with videos, we have a shorter one that's just for a book. So instead of the book, a person can have the three hour video course content to work from,

Michael LeBlanc 53:28
it's called the 10. To 10 habits, Crash Course, yeah.

Tina LeBlanc 53:33
But there's a more comprehensive program that we've set up for couples, and it's in a way to, for couples to be able to do some of the work on their own without necessarily needing couples counseling, because often like the feedback we receive, when we check in on those people that have purchased that program, I check in to see, you know, you do need more counseling after this like, and half the time people are like, No, this was, you know, I think we're good to go. We're good to go on our own, it was really valuable, what we learned. So that's the program that I think it'd be very beneficial for couples to do in between sessions when they do need more work.

Michael LeBlanc 54:11
It's called taking charge of your relationship. Yeah,

Tina LeBlanc 54:14
it's a four module course. It's just 10 hours of video context and content. And that's what you can build on. The program I use in my couples counseling is a little bit different. There's more than that particular program, but that's not as accessible to other people, other than the couples that sign up for my counseling program. But that other package that we have for couples of taking charge of your relationship course, that's accessible to anybody. So we actually have a free code that we'd like to give to couples therapists who are interested in seeing it for themselves, and to see if it's with their approach or not like maybe what we're saying doesn't fit with what you do. And you don't think it would be helpful for your clients but maybe He will. And maybe you can figure out your own process of maybe there's just a few videos that you want to give to some couples and some to others. Obviously, the clients themselves would have to pay. But we could put a special deal on the on your show notes if you wanted to.

Shane Birkel 55:18
For cover. That's great. Yeah, I can put it in the show notes if you want. Yeah,

Tina LeBlanc 55:21
that would be and we can give you also, there's a code, there's sorry, a link for accessing the first chapter of our book for free if people wanted to just kind of get a sense of what it is.

Michael LeBlanc 55:33
So how to couples therapists get that free coding?

Tina LeBlanc 55:37
Yeah, I don't want to put the free code in your show notes. But maybe if somebody would email me. Yeah. So contact us through our website, we have a contact link, or if they can contact me directly at Tina. Tina at better yourself. 365 dot com. Yeah, definitely. Yeah, sounds good. Change. Like, every so much. We changed. Yeah. And it's

Shane Birkel 55:59
and we can put, I can put those directions in the show notes like, Hey, if you're a therapist who's interested in this free thing, then email Tina here, or something like that. If that. Yeah, whatever works best. Yeah, great. Yeah. Well, that was. Yeah. Thank you so much, Tina. And Michael, I really appreciate having you both on this was great. Yeah, thanks. Appreciate it. Yeah. Hopefully, we can do this again sometime. All right. Thank you so much, Tina. And, Michael, I'm really grateful for you coming on and talking about all this on the podcast. Thank you to all you listeners out there. If you want to find out more, definitely, you can get a copy of their book, The 10 habits of happy couples, you can go to their website better yourself 360 five.com. And you can check out their course, actually, if you're a therapist, and you want to preview their course, for couples, they have generously offered to let you check it out for free. But you just got to email [email protected]. And I'll put that in the show notes. And you can connect with her and check it out for free. So that was really generous of her, also get a free chapter of their book, I'll put a link to that in the show notes. Again, I'm just so grateful to have them on. And here I'm talking about how they work with couples. Also, if you're interested, this episode is sponsored by the Couples Therapist Inner Circle, which is the membership site that I created about working with couples. And you know, at this point, there's hundreds of hours of content to help you become a better couples therapist, if you're just starting out, it's a really great way to get going. If you are a very experienced therapist, it's a great way to get education on working with affairs working with high conflict couples, working with Emotionally Focused Therapy, relational life therapy, all kinds of different things. And there's a really cool, new way that I'm setting it up, which is that you can do an add on bonus to your inner circle, which is about the business of couples therapy. And it's all about building a profitable couples therapy practice. And I'm really excited. I've been working with a bunch of people on building their practice starting a podcast, being on social media more, all kinds of different goals that people have for themselves how to use marketing. So I'm excited about that. If that's something that appeals to you definitely click on it in the show notes. And if you're just interested in the clinical side, then you can get that option. If you want to get the business side then you can get the clinical plus the business so there's something for everyone there and also the you know, please join the free couples therapists couch Facebook group, if that's where you're at in your career. You just want to join the free group. That's another great resource to take advantage of and I'm always grateful for ratings and reviews on wherever you listen to podcasts. Really appreciate that. This is Shane Birkel, and this is The Couples Therapist Couch. The podcast is all about the practice of couples therapy. I look forward to seeing you next time. Thanks, everybody!


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