Do your partner and you want to develop the skills to create Relationship Joy, Excitement, Playfulness and Passion. I can teach and work with you to:
- Discover the patterns that are getting in your way;
- Learn your part in relationship dysfunction to facilitate growth;
- Learn communication skills that lead to harmony and increased intimacy;
- Cultivate new thinking patterns and beliefs that promote new behavior;
- Get a vision of your unique flourishing relationship; and
- Develop new intimacy skills to rekindle pleasure, passion and play.
Why Couples Therapy Works
While there are many “relationships are like” metaphors, we can think of relationships like gardens – in order to flourish, they require tending, nurturing, care, and time.
Of course, given how busy many of us are, relationships all too often go untended… they become taken for granted, and like that overgrown garden you’ve been meaning to take care of, they can start to whither or even rot.
Unfortunately, most people wait until there relationship is in a pretty precarious state before they contact someone like myself, a relationship expert, to help. But, the fact is, it’s seldom too early or too late to seek couples counseling or relationship therapy!
This is especially true when you consider how vital a healthy, happy, intimate relationship is to our individual mental health. People who live with chronic relationship stress often end up with feelings of loneliness, isolation, depression, anxiety and stress. It is likely also true that untreated mood challenges such as depression, bipolar conditions, and anxiety (to name but a few) contribute to unhappy marriages. I am highly skilled in providing solid relationship therapy that gets results.
Couples counseling and therapy can help your partner and you become aware of what is referred to as the interlocking loop. The following are some of the more common negative relationship patterns or interlocking loops I see in my practice. I help couples recognize their patterns or cycles, become accountable for their part, and teach step-by-step tools, skills, and capacities to create new and flourishing patterns.
- The Cycle of Control – This usually manifests as one partner trying to control or change the other. Of course, the more one partner tries to control the other, the more the other partner either rebels, shuts down, escalates, or some other example of immaturity. One example of a common interlocking loop is the more a wife nags at her husband to express his feelings the more he shuts down, and the more he shuts down the more his wife nags. It is a common go-nowhere pattern that I help each partner own their part of in order to make healthy changes.
- The Cycle of Blame – Similar to the cycle of control, the more one partner blames another, the more the other partner engages in some negative pattern. I often see defensiveness, counterattack, leaving the room, or again shutting down. One husband I worked with frequently blamed his wife for problems, which caused her to get angry and defensive. Of course, defensiveness blocks meaningful communication and people are soon engaging in go-nowhere conversations, which I help each partner own their part of and make healthy changes.
These are just a couple of quick examples. However, the key is that I can not only help you become aware of your unique patterns, but also help you get crystal clear regarding your part in the patterns and how to break the cycle.
While many people seek couples counseling hoping to change their partners, real success more often comes from learning how to become accountable for your own part in the relationship dance. This is where the REAL work begins, as you have the choice to decide whether or not you want to work on changing yourself for the better or wasting your time trying to change your partner.
I firmly believe that relationships are our most precious resource, and this is backed up by research that shows happy couples live longer and raise healthy children.
I’ve been described as being confident, assertive, playful and dynamic, which can be rare in therapists but necessary to facilitate real change!
Why Work with Me
Early in my career, I became committed to developing the psychotherapy skills necessary to truly promote deep and lasting change. I’ve worked closely with Dr. Ellyn Bader of The Couples Institute over a 25-year period and have also trained with nationally known couples therapists and trainers Esther Perel, John Gottman, and Terry Real, among others. However, my skills as a marriage counselor and couples therapist are really due to my commitment to overcome many life challenges, to cultivate positive energy, confidence, playfulness, and solid self-esteem. This is why and how I can help you do the same, and more!
I have a solid foundation in the areas of Gestalt Therapy, Transactional Analysis, and the Developmental Model of Change, all of which are highly useful in my work with couples. Additionally, from 2012 to 2013 I was an associate at the nationally known Couples Institute in Menlo Park, which was founded by Dr. Pete Pearson and Dr. Ellyn Bader.
At this stage of my career, I’ve developed the cutting-edge skills necessary to help couples break out of stuck patterns, become accountable for their part in couple distress, and develop the tools and capacities to create flourishing relationships.
I use a developmental model in working with couples, and I also do individual work within the couples context when needed. This approach is highly effective for couples who have some individual issues but do not need an individual therapist.
And, unlike many counselors and therapists, I routinely spend time reviewing and studying my own work with current and former clients in order to create interventions that get results. (In fact, I love creating effective strategies from my own life experience and deep study of many cases over the years.)
I’ve been described as confident, clear, and compassionate – a necessary combination for providing effective couples counseling and therapy. When couples start escalating in my office, I’m often able to effectively “interrupt” these “go-nowhere” patterns of behavior.
Given my extensive experience working with and helping couples grow, I’ve developed clear mental maps that help my clients quickly overcome sticking points and cut to the chase.
This clarity and focus, combined with my natural energy and intuition, all work in harmony to help me provide exceptional couples therapy.
I also believe it is vital to effective couples therapy that there is a “good fit” between both partners and the therapist. For this reason, despite my booked schedule, I still manage to consistently provide a complimentary consultation to help prospective clients and I determine if working together makes sense and feels right.
Please keep in mind, I am not specifically trained to help people who abuse alcohol or drugs or who have a history of mental health hospitalization.
How to Get the Most Out of Couples Therapy
If you’re wondering what you can do in order to realize the greatest benefit from couples therapy. Here’s a short list…
- Focus on Changing Yourself – It takes TWO individuals with a strong sense of self-esteem to make an awesome WE!
- Do Your Homework – You’ll achieve better results faster by practicing the skills you learn in couples therapy and completing any homework assignments you’re given.
- Take Baby Steps – If your partner and you can focus on one thing each week that you can change during the course of the week so you can begin your next session by saying, “Here is what I did last week to move our relationship forward,” the combination of each of these action steps will move both of you inexorably forward towards the relationship you desire.
- Make Some Time for You – Be sure to make some personal time to get in touch with yourself and your own feelings, go deeper and develop some clarity regarding what you want to bring up in your sessions and how you want to express it. You can practice using the formula: “I feel , I think , and I prefer ” and fill in the blanks.
- Be Prepared to Take Some Risks – It may take some time, but you should work on developing the courage necessary to take “mini-risks” in your therapy, as it is by taking those risks and allowing yourself to be vulnerable that you can bring your relationship to a new level you never dreamed possible.
By developing positive coping skills and learning to manage difficult feelings, you’ll be able to have deeper, more meaningful conversations and connections with your partner, develop empathy for their position, and communicate your thoughts and feelings clearly. That’s the beginning of intimacy. And that’s the beginning of working together to create the healthy, joyous relationship you both desire!
Remember, there is hope, there is help and it’s just a phone call away. Call 408-358-9679 for a complimentary phone consultation.