Couples Counseling

I help couples understand what to do when things get tense

Is Your Relationship Breaking You Down Rather Than Building You Up?

Do you no longer feel emotionally connected to or understood by your partner? Are you engaging in the same arguments over and over again without resolution? Is anger or resentment piling up? Perhaps hectic schedules, children, careers and other stressors are depleting the energy that was once reserved for your relationship. Or, maybe you’re no longer working as a team and, instead, placing too much value on being right rather than taking the time to really hear, see and understand each other. Even if you’re feeling hopeless about your partnership, it is entirely possible to create a relationship that is based on secure functioning principles, such as mutual trust, love and respect.

Moving Couples in the Direction of Secure Attachment and Deeper Intimacy

My approach to couples counseling goes beyond just teaching basic communication tools. If it were that easy, we’d all be implementing those tools and relationships wouldn’t be so difficult. But, relationships are difficult. Why? Simply put, it’s because people are complicated. You are complicated and so is your partner. Authentic connection gets disrupted because of the core vulnerabilities we bring from our past into our current relationships. Problems arise when you or your partner (often unknowingly) trigger these old vulnerabilities and then behave in ways that create problems. When this happens, tempers may flare or maybe feelings get pushed under the rug. Regardless of the response, rather than feeling understood and supported by your partner, you end up feeling frustrated and alone.

In our sessions, I help you and your partner understand what each of your triggers are, why those are your triggers and what each of you can do when one or both become triggered. Key principles of secure functioning relationships are woven throughout our sessions. For example, do you always have your partner’s back and vice versa? Do you both always put your relationship first? Are you honest with one another or do you keep secrets? Do you take good care of one another? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then your relationship may not be as emotionally safe or as secure as it could be.

My approach is largely informed by my extensive training under Stan Tatkin, the psychologist who developed PACT (Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy). PACT was developed out of cutting edge research in attachment theory, neuroscience and nervous system regulation.

Attachment theory focuses on how childhood bonding experiences create a blueprint for our primary adult relationships. My study in this area of psychology allows me to help you identify problems related to attachment and ways to restore emotional safety and security to your relationship.

Neuroscience is simply the study of the human brain. Understanding how the brain works is an important component of understanding the physiology of how people relate and react in relationships. New and exciting research and technology in this area have improved our ability to understand how our brain responds to threat as well as to loving connection.

The biology of human arousal explains the ability to manage one’s energy, alertness, and readiness to engage. For example, how well do you argue? Do you become overwhelmed and then shut down or do you fly off the handle in a rage? Conversely, how well do you relax?
Do you relax easily and comfortably with your partner or do you turn to other things such as alcohol, the internet or shopping to unwind? These behaviors significantly influence your relationships and are often at the core of what you fight about most.

What Can You Expect?

My style is relational, direct, supportive, engaging and kind. A little humor gets thrown in as well! The first time I meet with you and your partner, we will meet for a 50-minute consultation session in order for me to understand your concerns, your therapy goals and to explain my approach and answer any questions. After this session, we can mutually decide whether we would like to move forward with therapy. If we decide to proceed, the next session will last 3 hours in order to properly assess your family histories and longstanding communication styles. Your session may include talking with your partner while I observe and comment, interviews to identify attachment styles, learning and practicing effective communication techniques and exercises to help you feel safe and secure with your partner. Follow-up sessions are either 1 ½ or 2 hours in length, depending on various factors. I very much look forward to working with you and your partner!