About Couples Therapy
All of us want to be loved, and love deeply, in return. Relationships can be a source of meaning and fulfillment, as well as tremendous pain and suffering. Eventually, in order to have the relationship we dream of, we realize must learn and we must grow.
We come into our relationships with a lot of ideas about how relationships, and even people, work. Often in therapy, we find much of that information is outdated and in need of updating and revision. Couples may feel initially scared to reach out for help, fearing that it means the relationship is doomed, or that they have somehow failed. This is far from true! Couple therapy is a place to learn about what a sustainable, secure, and inspiring relationship requires from us. Most of us never really learned that anywhere. My aspiration in our work together is that you can not only experience, but cultivate and obtain, the kind of relationship both of you can thrive best within.
In 2013 I began training with Stan Tatkin in the Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy, and am now Level 3 Trained in the PACT model. PACT is an experiential therapy for couples that incorporates the latest research as it applies to couples from the fields of attachment theory, developmental neuroscience, and understanding our deep nervous system (arousal regulation). The view is that even with a difficult attachment history, it is still possible for a couple to learn how to function in a secure way. That means learning how to cultivate safety, being sensitive to each other, and striving for mutuality as the relationship’s foundation. This is the ground from which fulfillment can grow.
My role is to help couples relate in a secure way by working with client’s struggles in the moment. The couple will develop a broader and deeper understanding of themselves and their partner. They will become skilled at supporting and caring for each other, even while working through conflict. They will have clear agreements around what their relationship is for and about. Once a couple experiences how their well being is directly impacted by their relationship, the relationship’s health becomes a very high priority in their lives.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if my partner doesn’t want to come to therapy with me?
It is not uncommon for one partner to want therapy more than another, or one partner feels more motivated than another to work on the relationship. It can help to have a 30 minute consultation with me, so I can address each of your concerns and hopes about therapy and working on the relationship. Often, people have ideas about therapy that aren’t accurate, or based on prior negative experiences with therapy (sadly, this is not uncommon either). It can help for us all to talk these concerns through and see if we can find a new way to embark on this important work.
How long will we have to be in therapy?
It depends on what brings you here. Some couples benefit from just 3-4 sessions, and find they can integrate what they’ve learned well and move to an “as needed” basis after that. Some couples find they either need or want to come in every 2 weeks regularly for a year or more to get to where they want to be. And then there are some couples that are somewhere in between, coming in every 1 or 2 weeks to start, then once a month, then on an as needed basis. Everyone can come back in for tune ups. We create a schedule together based on your desired outcomes and my recommendations.
Does starting therapy mean our relationship is doomed?
It certainly doesn’t! A lot of people come to therapy just because they are interested in growth and development, and improving their already “good” relationship. Some people worry that if they go to therapy, something must be wrong with them, or it means they are failing at something it looks like everyone else knows how to do (which isn’t true, either). However, most of us have no mentors or models of long term relationships that inspire us and show us how to do it well. We come into partnership maybe knowing what we don’t want, but not necessarily knowing how to create what we DO want. Most of us would benefit from taking time to learn about how to create the kind of relationship that fulfills us and makes our lives better. Investing in therapy is way better than winging it or expecting yourselves to simply know how.
Is couple therapy as painful as I think its going to be?
Probably not. Most people feel so relieved once they are no longer holding their relationship struggles on their own. Most people also feel relieved when they finally have the support they need to start facing the issues or problems that have been plaguing them. Personally, I really value getting to the truth, and even if the truth is difficult, it is better than a fantasy or delusion. There are so many moments in therapy that are also heartwarming, hilarious, and intimate. We usually all laugh and cry in a given session. I love this work, and if it was just a suffer fest, I wouldn’t be here doing it!