Church to host series on improving relationships



By Linda McIntosh


If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to strengthen your relationships, here’s a class that might serve as a jump-start. “Improving Relationships” is a free, five-week program beginning Jan. 27 at La Jolla Presbyterian Church. The seminar is open to anyone who wants to learn more about how to build better bonds with family and friends.

“There are more reasons to have stress in our lives these days, and it spills into our relationships,” said Wally Hofmann, community life administrator at La Jolla Presbyterian. “Relationship stress is one of the pressing concerns facing us all.”

The class is open to the community and led by Molly LaCroix, a registered marriage and family therapy intern.

LaCroix sees herself as a coach, helping people take a look at themselves in their relationships.

“My goal is for everyone to become better observers of themselves,” LaCroix said. “Becoming better observers is the first step in improving relationships.”

LaCroix compares it with taking a player out of a football game and showing him a replay of the whole field with all the players, including himself, so he can get the big picture. “We can’t begin to change our relationship until we see what we’re doing that doesn’t work.”

The focus is on learning more about how we relate to people and what each of us can do to change a relationship. “The only thing we really have power to change is ourselves,” she said.

During the one-hour class, LaCroix plans to combine lecture with discussion and Q, so there’ll be chances for interaction.

The class in not limited to parents and couples, but is meant for anybody who wants to strengthen a relationship.

LaCroix brings a variety of experiences to the class, including two years of counseling and 12 years of giving classes at churches and leading Bible studies. She has served as a bereavement counselor at the Center for Grief Care and Education at the San Diego Hospice & The Institute for Palliative Medicine.

LaCroix holds a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Bethel Seminary in San Diego and a master’s in public health from San Diego State University.

“It’s exciting when people come to the class motivated to learn new ways to relate — change is hard, and we have default patterns,” LaCroix said. She will address the various patterns in a relationship that light up under stress, such as conflict, distancing and triangling.

Conflict might mean yelling or domestic violence; distancing might include slamming a door and hiding behind it or not talking to each other; and triangling means talking to someone else about the problems in a relationship instead of talking to the person we’re trying to relate to. An example is complaining to a friend about one’s husband instead of talking to him directly about the issues.

She will also examine the influence of anxiety on how we function, and how we can cope with anxiety in the long term by changing our patterns and in the short term by finding ways to relieve stress.

‘Improving Relationships’ class

  • Who: Couples, parents, seniors, teens
  • When: Five Wednesdays, 6:30 to 8 p.m. beginning Jan. 27
  • Where: La Jolla Presbyterian Church, Life Center, Room 4, 7715 Draper Ave.
  • Cost: Free
  • Information:

(858) 729-5514,