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St. Albert Relationship Counselling Expert ~ Joyce Schafers

The Cycle of

Emotional Pain

At the heart of Change


The counselling model I use in my coaching practice was co-created with my colleague Dana daPonte.  It was through our mutual desire to understand our emotional pain and end our negative patterns, that this model was created. It has evolved and changed over the years but at the heart of the model is this key viewpoint:  there is a Cycle of Emotional Pain that is responsible for creating many of the struggles within relationships and in life, in general. 


There are three important components that blend together beautifully to make my counselling model a super effective and super simple form of therapy that has the potential to break The Cycle of Emotional Pain and create lasting change.  



1. Emotional Awareness


As a Life Management Skills Coach, I was trained to help people identify, express and manage emotions as a way of decreasing emotional pain and increase an overall sense of peace, joy and happiness.  The Life Skills Program was originally designed to help people who were incarcerated and/or people who couldn't function successfully in society deal with the suppressed emotional pain that was at the root of most of the negative choices they made in their lives.


What I realized, as time went on, was that most people have emotional pain caused by childhood trauma ~ not just people with severely traumatic childhoods.  Trauma can vary in degree and severity, but even 'mildly' traumatic events have the potential to create difficulties in relationships and negative patterns.  Understanding how childhood trauma causes unmet emotional needs and linking those elements to current relationship challenges and negative patterns is how I help people break their Cycle of Emotional Pain.  It's an extremely effective form of therapy that stands apart from other forms of therapy.   


My goal is to help you understand how your unresolved emotional pain has been creating the problems in your relationship and/or how it has been creating a negative pattern you have found yourself stuck in.  And, with guided direction and practice, my program will help you meet your unmet emotional needs which will help create ~ what a lot of people describe as ~ a newfound sense of peace and empowerment.  Dealing with unresolved emotional pain will not only improve your current difficult situation but it can potentially improve your health and restore an overall sense of well-being.


Once you understand what is at the root of the challenges you face ~ the unresolved emotional pain ~ it will change how you look at your entire life, not just your relationships.  And when you discover that there is one (yes one!) unmet emotional need at the root of all the uneasiness you feel in every area of your life, it makes solving problems much simpler and less overwhelming than believing you need multiple solutions for multiple problems.


Unresolved emotional pain wreaks havoc on our lives in ways we may not even realize but it is my goal to uncover the emotional root underlying your challenges and set you on a healing path.



2. A Course in Miracles  


You may or may not know anything about A Course in Miracles and that's ok.  What you might like to know is that, as a long time student of ACIM, applying the concepts in the Course has literally changed how I relate to everyone in my life and how I look at problems. 


Learning and applying concepts like mirroring, projection, attachments and forgiveness have helped me unplug from a victim mindset where it feels like everything is happening to me and is out of my control, to an empowered mindset where I know that I am responsible for how I feel and what I do in my life.  I no longer have to rely on others to behave a certain way or for circumstances to be 'just right' in order for me to feel like I have a sense of empowerment in the situation.  


The concepts in ACIM helped me tap into an inner power I hadn't accessed before and were key in helping me grieve the murder of my sister, process the emotional pain of my divorce and end my negative relationship pattern. 


I'd love to pass on the things I've learned from The Course in the past 20 years, onto you.  Making these concepts easier for you to understand and apply to your specific situation would feel really rewarding ~ I'd love to make things a little easier for you. 


3. Focused Conversation


Breaking my own Cycle of Emotional Pain came from my relentless need to understand the emotional root cause of my own relationship struggles, my love of A Course in Miracles and my passion for deep and profound conversations. Through thoughtfully focused and directed conversations, I will help you unravel the challenges that previously left you feeling mystified and stumped.   


In a Nutshell...


Combining the emotional awareness component of The Life Skills program with the powerful concepts found in A Course in Miracles and using focused conversation to uncover the emotional pain at the root of your challenges, you will gain access to a powerhouse counselling model and break The Cycle of Emotional Pain.  

I believe the very things that are causing you the most discomfort ~ your heartaches, frustrations, disappointments, fears and worries ~ can each be a doorway to powerful self-discovery.


Through understanding your deepest desires, helping you decode your emotions, using kind and gentle conversations, and supporting you every step of the way, my goal is to help you not only resolve your relationship challenges and/or end your negative patterns but finally address the old wounds that have potentially been creating a sense of unhappiness and disharmony your whole life.  



The Cycle of Emotional Pain

Whether you are struggling in your relationship or need help breaking the negative pattern you find yourself stuck in, my goal, as always, will be to help you understand how The Cycle of Emotional Pain has created the challenges you face and then provide strategies that will help you heal your emotional pain so the issues can be resolved. 


The first phase of our work together will answer the questions, "Why are things the way they are?"  "Why am I the way I am?"  "Why am I facing the challenges I am facing?"  It is impossible to fix a problem when you don't know what is causing the problem and so the goal of the first phase of our work together will be to identify to the root of the issue, once and for all.  


The goal of the second phase of our work together will be to provide strategies that will break The Cycle of Emotional Pain and actually resolve the issues you are facing whether they are issues in your intimate relationship or whether they relate to your negative pattern.  Awareness only goes so far. Meaning, understanding why we are the way we are won't resolve the problem, addressing the root issue is what is required to solve the problem and the Breaking the Cycle phase is designed to do just that.






In this phase, we explore how our early conditioning may have caused us to have an unhealthy and erroneous relationship with our emotions, setting us on a path of powerlessness.  






In this phase, we explore events in our past that may have caused emotional pain and suffering. This is where we identify our Unmet Emotional Need which is at the root of our negative patterns and is often the source of our "hot topics" ~ the things we typically fight about most in our relationships.


We also explore how the difficult events in our past impacted us as children and how those events may still be impacting us today, as adults.  We’ll look at more effective ways to respond to challenges so we are in a better position to handle them.






In this phase of our work together, we identify the ways you might be expecting external things, people, circumstances and situations to make you feel good (i.e. meet your Unmet Emotional Needs). This and the next stage, Attachment, are important points to explore so we can better understand why we are stuck in our negative pattern and/or better understand the emotional pain driving our hot topics and making communication difficult in our relationship.







In this phase, we explore how much we need those external things so we can feel good. Building on the previous lesson - Externalizing - this lesson will help us better understand our negative pattern of failure. Or, if we're struggling in our relationship, it will help us better understand the hidden dynamic driving our hot topics.




Breaking the Cycle




In this phase of our work together, I will support you in understanding and applying two very powerful strategies that will help you break your Cycle of Emotional Pain.  I will work hand in hand with you to help you Identify and Manage Your Triggers and Fill Your Emotional Cup. These proactive and reactive strategies are designed to heal the emotional pain formed in your trauma and restore peace and harmony in your relationships and break your negative pattern. 


For those of you who are working with me to improve your relationship, this phase will also involve a third strategy ~ a communication component ~ which is designed to support you with improving communication so your hot topics can be resolved and effective communication can be restored.

Support Options


You can learn more about the kinds of support available by clicking on the links below, or you can take advantage of the free phone consultation and talk with me directly.  It's a great way to get all your questions answered and help you decide if working with me is right for you.  Send me an email and we'll set up a time to talk.  My email address is

NOTE: I will do my best to respond within 24 hours so if you don't see a response from me please check your spam folder.

Additional Resources


Be sure to check out my Radio Interviews if you'd like to hear discussions about my coaching philosophy or take my Relationship Health Quiz to identify any areas of your relationship that might need help. To view my welcome video click here.


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