“For all of us, the person we love most in the world, the one who can send us soaring joyfully into space, is also the person who can send us crashing back to earth. All it takes is a slight turning away of the head or a flip, careless remark. There is no closeness without this sensitivity. If our connection with our mate is safe and strong, we can deal with these moments of sensitivity. Indeed, we can use them to bring our partner even closer. But when we don’t feel safe and connected, these moments are like a spark in a tinder forest. They set fire to the whole relationship.”
Throughout years of working with couples, I can say two things with confidence:
- every relationship will encounter its own unique challenges over years of living life together- every couple I see has its own individual story unlike any other, and
- our human needs for connection and security lead us to experience some very predictable patterns in our romantic relationships.
Couples therapy allows partners to explore the patterns in their relationship and learn new skills for healthy connection, communication, and conflict resolution. My approach to couples therapy is informed by Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, Family Systems Therapy, Gottman Therapy, Narrative Therapy, and Internal Family Systems Therapy. I understand these terms do not mean much to most clients, but I am happy to explain these approaches to clients who are interested. I also integrate trauma science into my work with couples when either or both partners have been impacted by traumatic events or experienced trauma in their families of origin.
Common issues couples bring to therapy with me-
- Desire to deal with conflict differently, decrease fighting
- Need to improve communication
- Trust issues related to infidelity and other betrayals in the relationship
- Grief and loss impacting relationship
- Challenges with sexual intimacy
- Difficulties transitioning to life changes, such as birth of children or empty nest
- Mental illness, addiction, or substance abuse issues impacting relationship
- Problems in relationships with extended family or adult children
- Unresolved conflict about parenting, money, and other topics that are part of daily life
What to expect in couples therapy with me-
The first session will be almost always be with both partners, and I will invite each of you to share your perspective about any problems you wish to address in the relationship. I will also ask you about the history of your relationship, what it typically looks like when you have conflict, and some basic information about your personal histories. We will explore the dynamics of the relationship together, identify the goals both partners have, and begin to identify the plan for changes. After 1-2 couples sessions, I will discuss recommendations for a therapy plan to meet your needs and goals. Throughout therapy, I want to work collaboratively with clients to ensure that the approach we are using in therapy meets the needs of the clients and their relationship. Most of the subsequent sessions will continue to be with the couple together; however, it is common to schedule periodic individual sessions with partners to allow opportunities for discussions about their roles in relationship dynamics. On average, couples attend 15-20 sessions in order to receive the most benefit from couples therapy- meaning they not only are aware of their relationship in a new way, but they can also intentionally and proactively work together to effectively communicate, navigate conflict, and maintain secure connection.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will rule your life and you will call it Fate.” —Carl Jung