Are you and your partner stuck in conflicts that repeat themselves over and over and fall into familiar patterns, while never resolving anything? Do you feel hurt by your partner’s anger and accusations – or isolated and frustrated by your partner’s failure to hear and see you and understand your feelings and needs? Do you long for greater trust, connection and intimacy?
Some of the reasons couples seek therapy include:
- Frequent fighting or arguing
- Communication breakdowns
- Loss of intimacy
- Sex issues
- Money and finance issues
- Clashing parenting styles
- Life transition issues
While these are common reasons for seeking therapy, each couple has its own unique and often complex relationship dynamics and ways that they experience tension and dissatisfaction.
How Therapy Can Help
Therapy can help resolve conflict and bring about positive change in your relationship, in several ways:
- Improving communication: Therapy can provide a safe and contained space in which to express your concerns and needs and be truly heard by your partner. I take an active role in working with couples, ensuring that you don’t simply rehash old arguments. This includes helping each of you communicate in constructive ways that in turn invite your partner to listen and respond with an open attitude.
- Establishing deeper emotional connection: Couples sometimes respond to each other in automatic and reactive ways. Therapy can help you develop greater awareness of your emotional responses, and to access an emotional reality that lies closer to the core of who you are and that shapes and influences your surface emotions. Tapping into and expressing such core feelings are not always easy tasks, as this entails greater vulnerability – but in the end doing so may allow you to connect with your partner at a deeper level and result in greater mutual understanding and increased emotional connection and intimacy.
- Breaking out of circular relationship dynamics: Couple conflict often has a circular quality in which one person’s behavior triggers a defensive response in the other, in turn evoking more of the first person’s unwanted behavior, and so on. These dynamics can become so entrenched that they are difficult to escape despite the couple’s best intentions. It can also be difficult to clearly see the nature of these emotionally charged dynamics when you are in the midst of them. Therapy can help you discover what creates and maintains these dynamics, what each person’s role is, the deeper unmet needs that are involved, and how to break out of the patterns and find new and more satisfying ways of relating.
A focus on the here-and-now. My approach to working with couples includes a focus on your here-and-now interactions and internal experience. In addition to listening carefully to what each of you have to say, I pay attention to how you talk to and interact with each other. I help you discover how your relationship dynamics show up in the therapy room, and help you access and express your present-moment experience.
Building resources. While focusing on the difficulties that brought you to therapy, I also make sure not to lose sight of what is already working well in your relationship, and how to take advantage of and build on your existing strengths.
Some of the specific modalities I use in working with couples include Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy and Hakomi. See Therapeutic Modalities to learn more.