Greenfield couples counselor speaks to pandemic’s impact on relationships

  • Amy Newshore of Greenfield formally started her own relationship coaching business three months ago. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 12/2/2021 5:16:43 PM
Modified: 12/2/2021 5:16:11 PM

GREENFIELD — After spending most of her life in the field of human services working for a variety of agencies, including most recently teaching in a local prison, Amy Newshore is pursuing a dream she’s had since her youth: working with couples.

“I went to Antioch University and did my internship at a couple’s center for the two years of internship,” said the Greenfield resident. “Usually, it’s one year at one place and another at another location, but I fell in love with it so much that I was able to continue into the second year.”

Newshore received her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from Antioch University New England, after which she was trained in the Developmental Model of Couples Therapy.

“My training is mostly in couple’s work,” she said. “That’s my skill set, and there’s nothing else I’d rather do.”

After working at center in Northampton, Newshore formally started her own relationship coaching business three months ago, she said. While she continues to search for her own office space, she has been meeting with clients in temporary spaces, and arranging sessions via Zoom.

Newshore’s career in counseling began in the midst of a time when “people are absolutely desperately trying to find therapists,” she said.

“I think there’s more demand,” she said, referencing the stress and anxiety the COVID-19 pandemic has caused people from all walks of life. “I’m glad people are turning into that direction to seek help.”

While some couples she’s worked with have managed really well throughout the pandemic, others have found navigating relationships and changing dynamics to be a more significant challenge.

“People are not at their best when they’re stressed,” she said. “When there’s multiple stressors in our lives, or our children’s lives, we often resort to habitual ways of relating that are not effective, and often destructive.”

This includes yelling, shutting down and not wanting to engage in conversation, or saying hurtful words, Newshore explained.

“Our outside interaction with friends, colleagues and relatives has come to a halt, and these usual outlets for stimulation — fun and for letting go of stress — are no longer part of our everyday lives,” she said.

Changes in household responsibilities, adapting to working from home and managing children’s schoolwork have also been additional stressors for many couples. And when couples are experiencing “simultaneous stress” — with each partner experiencing their own challenges — there’s less room for comforting one another.

“What’s happening with couples is they understandably feel incredibly miserable and trapped in dynamics that are bewildering and painful,” she said.

In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated pre-existing issues between couples.

“Issues between people that have been able to be managed, handled or even denied can start to bubble up, to boil to the surface,” she said. “When there’s cracks in the relationship, they only widen during more stress.”

Newshore said she’s seeing more pre-marital couples than before, but also has been seeing many couples in long-term relationships, including people who’ve been married as many as 38 years.

“I do think it may be as simple as people having more time alone and more time to contemplate their own life,” she said. “And they may think even more seriously about if they’re engaged and want more out of a marriage.”

And that’s where the work of a couple’s therapist can come in, she said.

“The work that’s involved with couple’s therapy is having each partner develop a stronger connection within themselves and learn even more about their own feelings and needs,” Newshore said. “A big part of my work with couples is to develop the language of feelings and needs and then being able to skillfully communicate, coming from what they know about themselves.”

Some tips Newshore offers couples is to recognize that conflict is unavoidable and relationships can thrive when it is approached in healthy, productive ways; to know when is an appropriate time to engage in difficult conversations; to practice “self-soothing,” or knowing that the judgments of someone else don’t reflect who you are; and understanding that judgments beget judgments.

Newshore said she’s “absolutely optimistic” about the future of relationships as couples continue to navigate their way through the stressors of the pandemic.

“I’m here to help people navigate their relationships so they’re not stuck in painful patterns that they have no idea how to get out of,” she explained.

For more information or to request an appointment, visit coachingbyamy.com. Newshore can also be reached at amy@coachingbyamy.com.

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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