Beginning Couples Therapy
Beginning couple therapy may feel like a daunting prospect. Many arrive in the midst of a relational crisis; an affair, feeling abused emotionally or addictive behaviors could be at the core driving the problems. Most relationships seek outside help to gain conflict resolution skills which are about learning to communicate effectively by decreasing land mines that block that from happing while learning to listen to understand. One or both of you may be feeling dissatisfied, have lost hope, but don’t want the marriage to end.
All people at any period of time are the sum of all their experiences. Nature and nurture and personal temperament making meaning of those experiences. Often complexities don’t show up until in a romantic relationship. Suddenly, we may find our past emotional wounds being poked, and our partners may be reminding us (whether we recognize it consciously or not) of someone from our family-of-origin who scared us, invalidated us, or never allowed us to be right. Understanding where we come from and how we differ from our partners can be a significant part of growing in intimacy in our relationship.
After intake, sessions are weekly and then titrate down to every two weeks. Couples will receive their own designated timeslot. The focus will be on the relationship and individual issues. Couples will start out attending therapy together but may come individually during the course of therapy. Please note that couple’s therapy is not billable to insurance, but you may be able to use your Health Saving Account.
I offer couple’s therapy in two formats: weekend intensives or regular sessions. Choosing the appropriate format for you will depend on the issues that are bringing you to therapy and your availability for sessions. If you are interested in a combination, the weekend intensive serves as a great jump-start to couple’s therapy, covering several weeks’ worth of material in one session. You will leave feeling more understanding and compassion toward your partner, as well as learning new tools to start communicating more effectively.
Fear of Therapy
Sometimes both partners are willing participants in couple’s therapy, sometimes not. Many fear the “stigma” of needing therapy and would rather try to work things out for themselves. All of us could use some help from time to time in our lives. If you are struggling, unhappy or close to separating or divorce, seeking professional help could restore your relationship.
I use a blend of therapies tailored for each couple and their unique concerns. I am trained in the following marriage and premarital modalities:
- Gottman Level 1 & 2
- Materials from the 7 Principles of Making Marriage Work, by John and Julie Gottman. The seven principles Gottman sets out are for the partners to enhance their love maps; nurture fondness and admiration; turn toward each other instead of away; let their partner influence them; solve their solvable problems; overcome gridlock, and create shared meaning.
- Prepare & Enrich – Building Strong Marriages.
- Emotionally Focused Couples Counseling
- Couples Communication / Negative thought Patters
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
EFCT focuses on the following stages:
Stage One: Cycle De-escalation
- Step 1: Identify key issues of concern.
- Step 2: Identify ways negative patterns of interaction increase conflict when key issues arise.
- Step 3: The therapist assists in the identification of unacknowledged fears and negative emotions related to attachment underlying negative interaction patterns.
- Step 4: The therapist reframes key issues for the couple in terms of negative patterns of interaction, underlying emotions and fears, and each individual’s attachment needs.
Stage Two: Changing Interaction Patterns
- Step 5: Individuals are assisted in voicing both their attachment needs and deep emotions.
- Step 6: Partners are coached in ways to express acceptance and compassion for a partner’s attachment needs and deep emotions.
- Step 7: Partners are coached in the expression of attachment needs and emotions while also learning ways to discuss those issues likely to cause conflict.
Stage Three: Consolidation and Integration
- Step 8: The therapist coaches the couple in the use of new communication styles to talk about old problems and develop new solutions.
- Step 9: The couple learns ways to use skills practiced in therapy outside of session and develops a plan to make new interaction patterns a consistent part of life after therapy.
Imago therapy focuses on collaboratively healing childhood wounds that the couple share and on the connections of early childhood experiences. The term Imago is Latin for “image”, and refers to the “unconscious image of familiar love.” Simply put, there is often a connection between the frustrations experienced in adult relationships and early childhood experiences. For example: If you frequently felt criticized as a child, you will likely be sensitive to any criticism from your partner. Likewise, if you felt abandoned, smothered, neglected, etc., these feelings will come up in your marriage/committed relationships.