Couples Therapy

May 2017 Update: I currently do not have any openings for new couples clients. I may be able to see one of you individually. Please fill out the contact form if you're interested.

Most couples come in to me trying to solve a mystery. It goes like this: “We used to be happy. Now we’re not. And all of our attempts at fixing it haven’t changed that. In fact, they have sometimes made it worse.”

I understand. I know that keeping a long-term committed romantic relationship alive and happy is hard work, and is a challenge most of us were not well-trained for. We go from the templates we saw of our parents (if we saw any), from TV shows and self-help books, from what we see around us (the public face of other’s relationships) – and they don’t provide us with the answers we need to stay connected and positive. Add in a kid or two and perhaps two careers and a mortgage and you’ve got a recipe for a tired, stressed-out couple.

Some of the things I work with couples on include:marriage-counseling11

  • Communication
  • Conflict & Fighting
  • Disconnection
  • Intimacy & Sex
  • Money & Finances
  • Balancing Work & Family Life
  • Dealing with In-Laws
  • Parenting
  • Infidelity & Affairs
  • Infertility & Adoption
  • Managing Difference
  • Values & Goals
  • Pre-Marital Counseling
  • LGBT Issues

My work with couples lives both in the real world of communication skills, conflict, habits & patterns, but it really works at its best when we get down to the heart of a romantic relationship – love, intimacy, acceptance, connection. The want for that, the experience of it, drives us so strongly into relationships early on. And feeling that once again really is what I find most people want – and that I know can happen.

It’s just that sometimes we end up mired in a mix of fear, anger, hopelessness, resentment, vulnerability or scarcity (my needs competing with yours). And we often put in place things to help us survive this disconnection – things that ultimately we may need to release to really achieve something fresh and new.

I use tools and theory from several different marital researchers – John Gottman (author of Why Marriages Succeed or Fail), Harville Hendrix (Imago Therapy-Getting the Love You Want), and Sue Johnson (Founder of Emotional Focused Therapy) – and frame it all in how it might relate to your unique stories. I work with couples who are just dating, who are living together, engaged or thinking about marriage (or stuck on the verge) and who are married.

When Is Couples or Marriage Counseling Recommended? (from goodtherapy.org)

People in relationship seek counseling for any number of reasons, from power struggles and communication problems, to sexual dissatisfaction and infidelity. Though counseling is recommended as soon as discontent arises in a relationship, studies show that on average, partners will not seek therapy until they have been unhappy for six years. And yet, the more time has passed, the more difficult it may be to repair the relationship. In some cases, a couple who has already decided to separate may pursue therapy in order to end the relationship amicably and respectfully.

Effective therapy will likely address many aspects of the relationship, although communication tends to be the primary focus of relationship therapy. When partners repeatedly employ conflict avoidance or engage in heated power struggles, communication problems ensue; resentment builds, and repairs are never made. John Gottman, who collected decades’ worth of data on marriage and relationships, identified that the lack of adequate repair following an argument is the biggest contributor to marital unhappiness and divorce. Counselors know that one of the first steps in improving a relationship is to teach each person how to regulate their emotions, stay calm, and use healthy communication skills to resolve problems new and old, and many partners see their communication improved as a result of counseling.

Expectations and Goals

Successful therapy depends on each partner’s motivation and dedication to the process, and couples can expect to become better listeners and communicators and to find new ways to support one another. Goals will be established by the couple under the guidance of the therapist, and in order to achieve these objectives, each partner must be prepared to acknowledge and understand his or her role in the relationship. It is not uncommon for conflict to arise within therapy sessions, but ethical therapists will strive to remain neutral and avoid taking sides.

Sometimes it may be helpful to meet with each partner individually, in addition to sessions together.

Frequency, Duration, and Effectiveness

Relationship counseling is often held once per week, but this may vary depending on your therapy goals and whether you are also attending individual sessions. Counseling is often short-term, though healing takes time, and ultimately, the therapy will proceed for as long as the couple is committed to seeing it through or until resolution is reached.

Research evaluating changes in marital satisfaction after therapy indicated that approximately 48% of couples demonstrated either improvement or full recovery in relationship satisfaction at five-year follow-up. Relationship deterioration resulted for 38% of couples and 14% remained unchanged.

 

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