Relationships require attention and focus. No different than a garden, when neglected they will bear no fruit. If you are having difficulty in your relationship and you have tried but failed to solve problems or correct your course, professional help is indicated. I have more than 20 years of experience providing couple’s therapy and counseling to hundreds of couples. While sometimes challenging, it is quite rewarding to help couples get to where they want to be — whether that is stronger and closer together, or supportively on different paths. It will be about your goals! We clarify what they are, supported by reading and assignments between sessions. Please come prepared to work, invest in the process and achieve results!
Some Working Assumptions
Relationships are co-created, requiring attention to our individual contributions to relationship problems. Most will resist, because it is easier to blame others. However, it is a highly powerful concept given that we have control only over ourselves. Our willingness to change is the most powerful and profound contribution we can make towards positive change in our relationships!
Most couples want greater intimacy, often coming to therapy in a state of disconnection. Our reactions to hurt, anger and resentment drive us apart. In therapy you will learn to support and apply the concept that intimacy cannot exist without vulnerability. When you are hurt and angry it is very difficult to be vulnerable.
While it takes two to be in ongoing conflict, it only requires one to stop it! We are often so busy looking to blame the other, that we overlook healing power within ourselves. As individuals, we can stop conflict and pursue a mutually healthy and supportive path. A “good fight” is one that translates complaints into requests. It requires guidance and practice and will result in more needs being met!
People often talk about negative emotions and how damaging they can be. I approach emotions from a neutral, non-judgmental stance. It is never the emotion that is the problem, but the responses, reactions and choices made when triggered by emotions. Yes, even anger is neither good nor bad — while it has triggered some to start wars, it has also triggered others to demand and advance changes from which all of society has benefited.
Time and Space
Couples who are disengaged or are in conflict are often tempted to focus on the past where the origins of the hurt and pain exist. I will focus us on the present and the future because that is where life is to be lived. The past can be helpful to better understand something, but it is the future that holds where we are going and it is the present where life is lived. While this can be very challenging, it can also be very powerful. Try having a discussion with your partner/spouse without making a reference to the past. By doing so, you will see how hard it is to blame and fight, and easy to talk about what you want to commit to and create.
Good communication skills are paramount to success in couple’s therapy. It can be difficult to take on emotionally charged issues, when bad communication habits rear their ugly heads. I will assess your respective communication styles. For some, this will be the focus of improvement, before more challenging issues are taken on. I will be an active participant and, with your trust and permission, I will not allow you to hurt each other. Rather, you will learn how to have a “good fight” which is about supporting each other in your communication around how to get more of your needs met.