Is your relationship keeping up with the changes in your life?
Are you having trouble adjusting to cohabitation, marriage, or parenthood? Are you getting what you want from your partner?
Couples therapy isn’t just for just for marriages on the brink of divorce. It can be helpful at any stage of a relationship and for whatever struggle you’re facing.
As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I have specialized training and education in relationships. Most therapists don’t. Nothing is more rewarding than a good relationship, and nothing is more devastating than a failing one.
The first step in couples therapy usually involves listening and communication. Too often, when we’re “listening,” we’re actually just waiting and preparing to respond or defend ourselves. That’s a confrontation, not a conversation. The first step towards improved communication is to learn to listen in order to understand. To really hear, process, and empathize with what our partners are saying.
The second step towards better communication and a stronger relationship is to recognize that your partner is not a mind reader. If you need your partner to understand something, then you need to tell it to them. Too many conflicts result from an unreasonable assumption that our partners should intuitively understand us without any help.
Another key task for couples is learning how to tap into underlying emotions. Once a conflict starts, partners begin to feel threatened. We naturally respond to threats by trying to defend ourselves, but this is actually destructive. Anger and defensiveness overshadow whatever the real issue is. Most of the time, there’s something more important underneath — sadness, betrayal, pain, or fear. Anger is the secondary emotion, not the primary emotion, and we will work on how to drill down to the real feelings. Both partners need to feel safe enough to communicate what’s going on inside, rather than just rehashing the same old fight. We will work together to create the space and the empathy for this communication so that healing can begin.
It’s important to remember that conflict does not mean a relationship isn’t working. Most conflict is resolvable. If you’re willing to work on it, you can have a fulfilling relationship. When a deep connection exists, we can work on the rest.
As a couples therapist, it’s not my job to take sides or decide who’s right in some dispute. My role is as a coach, not a referee. I will teach you tools and skills to help you resolve your conflicts, and I will give you a safe, welcoming, and empathetic space to have discussions that are hard to have on your own. At the end of the day, though, a real relationship takes real work. It’s naive to think that a strong relationship just involves finding the right person and then flipping the autopilot switch. A real relationship, with anyone, takes real effort.
I have worked with couples at every stage of life, but my focus is on those in their 20s and 30s. Couples in this phase of life confront unique issues. We spend our teens and early 20s seeking independence from our families, so the process of coupling and forming a new family as we move into the next phase of life can be disorienting and destabilizing. Working on your issues at this early stage pays powerful dividends for the rest of your life together.
If you feel like you’re struggling in your relationship, it’s never to early to ask for help. Most couples wait too long before seeking therapy, and it’s better to strengthen your relationship now than to continue struggling until you reach a crisis.
In working with couples, I offer both traditional in-person sessions and e-therapy by phone or video chat. I’m happy to discuss which of these I think would be best for you.
I’m here to help, let’s work together!
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