After many years of specializing in working with couples, I have found that the results are largely dependent on two essential ingredients:
1. MY PART: Skilled, empathic therapist with specialized training in working with couples. I must be able to identify the underlying dynamics behind the differences and conflicts, explain these dynamics to the couple, be able to help the couple recognize when these dynamics are operating, and teach them new skills and behaviors to substitute for the old ones. I must help them grow in self-awareness.
2. YOUR PART: Each partner must be committed to taking responsibility for their own behavior where necessary. This includes being willing to learn how they get triggered and equally important, how their partner gets triggered. Then they must be willing to learn and practice new, healthier behaviors that contribute to restoring trust, closeness, and positive feelings between them. Tools will be presented in sessions that need to be put to use at home during the week.
I don’t want you to just take my suggestions and do them; I want you to understand ‘why’ these suggestions work. My goal is that the tools you learn will serve you throughout your life, long after couple therapy is done.
I will do my part. If you will do your part, I see no reason why your relationship can’t be significantly improved and much more. satisfying.
My Guiding Beliefs and Values
Most of us did not have wonderful role models for relationships. Often, despite our best intentions, we resort to unhealthy responses to our partner when we’re upset or angry. Relationship skills are teachable and any relationship can be substantially improved as long as both partners are committed, open and willing.
When couples know what to do, but still aren’t doing it, there are often hidden reasons for continuing negative behaviors. Once these reasons are identified , partners can remain more conscious when making choices in communicating and responding to each other.
There is a hierarchy of skills that couples need for successful interactions. We can assess which skills a particular couple has and which ones they still need for things to improve.
Couples need to gain awareness of those times when they are most defensive, know what is happening to them, and learn ways of communicating in more collaborative ways.
Communicating is not just about speaking, it’s also about listening. Listening is not just waiting for your turn to speak and defend yourself.
Healthier relationships provide children and families with a secure base from which to go out and interact in the world successfully. Home should be a warm, loving , safe place from which you get your batteries charged for the next day’s endeavors: work, school or play.
Healthy, loving relationships contribute to our community by producing positive, functioning members who treat others with respect and fairness.
When relationships flourish, partners flourish as individuals and become their best, most productive selves. Everyone wins.
Above all, I am flexible. One size does not necessarily fit all. I approach each couple’s relationship as to what they need to resolve their most pressing issues first. In collaboration with you, I design an approach for each couple that achieves results in the shortest amount of time and is the most cost effective. Our first goal is to return you to a stable place as quickly as possible.
Once stability is achieved, we can then discuss and work on issues that would have caused conflict and tension in the past. Couples learn ways of tackling issues that they may have been avoiding due to too much conflict. Then, many couples choose to move on to more relationship enhancing skills to increase satisfaction in their relationship further. Or they may be ready to end therapy for now.
I strive to teach couples what they need to do both now and in the future to address issues as they arise, and resolve them before they become bigger. I want you to learn not only what to do, but why these skills work. I don’t want you to need my help forever.
Some couples work long-term and some work short-term. Either way, I will expect that you’re willing to work hard to achieve the relationship you want. My approach is fairly interactive. I do give feedback. I often give homework. I can’t do it for you, but I will certainly provide ‘the flashlight’ on your search for a better relationship.
Why Couple Therapy Is Different
As surprising as it may seem, a great many therapists who see couples in their practice have very little if any specialized training with couples. At best, most academic programs have only one class on couple therapy. There are many required courses to be taken and not enough time to go in-depth on any one specialization. So therapists graduate still needing lots of additional training and supervision in couple work. They must obtain this training on their own. Some do, many do not.
Add to that the fact that couple therapy is widely said to be more difficult than individual therapy. There are two clients to work with and they are often upset with each other. There are two people’s histories to digest and conflicts between them to understand. Assuming the therapist makes good sense out of this, they must then be able to create a space where the couple can both feel heard, understood, supported, and helped to learn some new tools and skills that will help them achieve increased trust and closeness with each other.
I have had significant training in working with couples. I stay up on the latest research pertaining to close relationships and marriage. I attend Continuing Education seminars on couple therapy each year. I regularly collaborate with other couple therapists to address better ways of helping couples and consult with others when needed. But best of all, I really enjoy working with couples!
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