My approach to couples counseling
We all know that anything worth having is worth working for, and that goes doubly true with regard to our intimate relationships.
- Do you feel like your partner has your back? Did you know this feeling is probably the most important aspect of being a couple?
- If you can focus on the emotional needs behind the anger, withdrawal, or tears, you can address the real need your partner has.
- If you can overcome your own urge to defend yourself, the most important thing above all is conveying to your partner that you're supposed to be a team.
I encourage you to believe in your relationship. Have faith in the love that brought you two together in the first place. And even when neither of you has any hope left, I can carry the hope for the both of you, until you get your second wind, and start to believe again.
I take a more active and directive approach in working with clients and with couples, offering insights, feedback, and encouragement. Although I incorporate elements of self-taught Gottman and Emotionally Focused couples counseling, my specialization is in doing deeper work with couples. I find that many, if not most, couples I work with need Depth psychology for real transformation, and not just tinkering around the edges. By the time a couple sees the need for counseling, their marriage or relationship will need a fresh, new beginning, and not just small adjustments here and there. Not all couples counselors will be able to do this deeper-level work.
Communication, sharing of emotions, and finding practical and workable solutions are all very important; but sometimes issues go deeper than that, and that is where I can help. What I bring to couples counseling is my working knowledge of Gottman and Emotionally-Focused therapy, but mainly my study and years of experience with Depth psychology work.
Don't Be Bound By Tradition: "Studies of relationships find that in the last two decades both men's and women's expectations have changed significantly and become less rigid. Today, partners in happy, long-term relationships are three times more likely to embrace a flexible definition of women's and men's roles." David Niven / Gilbert & Walker 2001
When couples first arrive for couples counseling, there is often already "a lot of water under the bridge." Or, another way of looking at it, there's a lot of muddy water in the bucket of the relationship. In couples counseling, we put that bucket of muddy water under a faucet of clean water, and we begin to run clean water into the bucket. At first, that may stir up even more mud in the water; but soon the muddy water begins to spill over and spill out, and as you keep going, the bucket is filled more and more with new, clean water.
What does that mean practically speaking?
In couples counseling, you will learn to:
- Deal with frustrations, conflict, and arguements
- Work through differences in spending money and raising kids
- Work on feeling close, feeling supported, and feeling like a team
- Have a plan and go forward in the same direction together
- Deal with alchol use/abuse and/or other substance use
- Communicate more calmly and openly.
- Understand the fundamental personality differences between you and your partner.
- Understand the value and necessity of compromise and finding workable soluations, not perfect solutions.
- Work through anger and pain after an affair, discover if reconcilliation is possible, and begin to rebuild trust.
- Experience confidence and security in yourself, which is the necessary foundation of a strong relationship.
- Understand and resolve deeper, underlying conflicts in your mind that are the pattern for your way of relating.
- See the value of reinvesting your sexual energy in your partner --
- and the advantages of having a sexual partner who knows you very well.
- Learn to be proactive in keeping your bond solid.
In my couples counseling work, the Big Four concepts that I utilize most are:
1. Developing a positive, pro-active, and natural communication style
2. Understanding & working positively with personality differences
3. Understanding each other's "Love Language"
4. Attachment styles - perhaps the deepest and most important part of couplehood ~ Read More
Expanding your knowledge and increasing your skills in these and other important areas provides the basis for working out your differences as a couple, and finding your way toward greater harmony together.
The simple, but important "Speaker-Listener" technique:
It promotes the two most important elements of communicating: staying calm, and keeping a warm feeling. This is one aspect of the new skill set you must develop in order to successfully address the areas of difficulity and conflict in your relationship.
Regarding couples counseling, author James Hollis writes, "The partner is neither rescuer nor enemy, only partner. Perhaps the ideal model for couples therapy would be for each person to be in individual therapy, to get a better fix on developmental needs, as well as attending sessions together to deal not only with exhausted patterns of the past, but hopes and plans for the future."
In couples counseling, I will meet initially with both members of the couple together for several sessions, and then begin to include individual sessions with each partner. In addition to working on the couple relationship, each individual partner should develop personal goals for how they want to feel differently, communicate better, and interact more positively and productively with their partner.
Of course, when doing couples counseling, there is a no-secrets policy. There is nothing that can be shared with the therapist in your individual sessions that cannot be shared, appropriately, with your partner. In couples counseling, whether meeting together or individually, the "client" is still the couple, and the goal is still to make the couple relationship healthier and stronger.
Please feel free to contact me, and we can discuss your unique situation. Together we can begin to figure out what the next steps are that move you toward progress in your marriage or relationship.
Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from ‘being in love’ — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else.
‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. it is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.”
― C.S. Lewis