Couples Psychotherapy

“Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back.”

“We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.”
Somerset Maugham

Are You and Your Partner Feeling Disconnected or Arguing?

Conflicts are a normal part of any relationship. Difficulties in communication and connection occur at different stages across the life span. The themes or patterns of conflict that emerge at the beginning of the relationship remain steady within every couple. The essential tools that make for a good relationship has less to do with changing who one is (or the character of one’s partner) and more to do with changing the dynamic of the relationship. Addressing how you communicate, listen, demonstrate active engagement, gentle approaches to conflict, take responsibility for one’s share of what each contribute to that conflict, no matter how small, and showing appreciation and care are the significant factors in a healthy, long-lasting relationship.

How Couples Therapy Works

Beginning couples therapy is anxiety provoking whether the goal is to strengthen an already strong relationship or to try to reconnect after a trust that has been tarnished. I provide a safe, warm, collaborative environment in which to begin working on specific skill sets such as diminishing blame, defensiveness, criticism and rejecting each other’s attempts at connection; additionally, we will enhance effective communication techniques using research-based solutions. Our emphasis will be on re-creating the space for fun, exploration, curiosity, engagement and intimacy rather than on what hasn’t worked. Couples therapy must build on the relational foundation by creating step-wise building blocks to increase goodwill, strength, love and respect so to better weather stressful situations, transitions and life crises which are inevitable.

Typically, I meet with couples for an hour and a half. Research supports a front loading of therapy with couples for a more successful and lasting effect. I meet with each individual for a history-taking session. In between the first two sessions, I may ask you to complete a questionnaires about your relationship followed by feedback regarding goals, approaches, and tools for building a firm foundation that can be utilized beyond the therapeutic setting.

Hope and Healing in a Place of Safety

Together, we work to improve communication skills, including learning how to express feelings of hurt, sadness, anger and disappointment in a constructive manner. Discovering how to name, label and articulate unspoken desires, thoughts and feelings with a respectful and gentle approach is an important ingredient for any healthy couple. Decreasing defensiveness and flooding, while improving how we listen, respond and repair conflict is only one half of the equation in building a good connection. Equally vital is a couple’s ability to bond, through intimacy and laughter that result in a generosity of spirit.

Goals of Couples Therapy

I have worked with couples for over 25 years. My approach is collaborative, direct and respectful. I help couples to identify and change patterns of relating that have led to feeling trapped, hurt and disengaged. I work with couples to address and resolve various goals:

  • Strengthen and Fortify a Healthy Relationship
  • Pre-Marital and Marital Therapy
  • Gay and Lesbian Relationships
  • Improve Communication Skills
  • Issues of Trust (adults abused as children, affairs)
  • Difficult Emotional or Physical Experiences (a safe place to talk and understand each other)
  • Frequent Arguing and Fighting
  • Intimacy Issues and Re-Connecting
  • Parenting
  • Decision-Making and Adjusting to Transitions (moving in together, marriage, child birth, fertility issues, separation, blended families)
  • Separation/Divorce/Loss
  • Age-Related Changes (empty nest, menopause, health, retirement)

Couples Therapy Can Help You But You Still Have Questions or Concerns: 

Is It Too Late For Us?

It is never too late provided that both parties are committed to the therapeutic process and to working on the vitality of the relationship. It is also true that the sooner treatment is sought, the less time exists for building resentments, false attributions, mistrust and defenses. Not all couples enter with the same degree of commitment and that is all right. As our work unfolds, feelings, thoughts, engagement, and commitment to the relationship will change since these are not static entities. 

Why Is It Important to Bring Our Childhood History into The Room?

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

Who we are and how we respond to one another directly relates to our past. What triggers your anger or fears, your ability to trust, the ways in which you protect yourself against disappointment or hurt is determined, in part, by your developmental experiences. Bringing unconscious associations from your past into awareness, that get re-enacted in your current conflicts, increases a couple’s understanding of how an individual’s psychological, social and cultural dynamic contribute to the couple’s functioning. Issues of anxiety, depression, alcohol or substance use, childhood experiences of abuse, and traumas are important factors to understand (individually and as a couple) and to treat. Healing and growth can only begin when these issues are named, re-processed, and the couple learns how to regulate their emotions and physiology in order to create a safe space to address any concerns.

As Shakespeare so wisely wrote of abiding love and connection:

My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.
Romeo & Juliet 2:2

I encourage you to Contact Me with any further questions or to schedule an appointment.