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DiscoveringTHE INNER YOU

Couples Counseling

Are the Conflicts Between You and Your Partner Damaging The Bond That Brought You Together?

Growing apart can start in small ways. Your partner no longer greets you from work or fails to make meaningful eye contact. Words get exchanged, but there is no communication, no connection. Gradually, you feel a distance you can’t bridge and feel emotionally isolated from the one you love most. Increasingly, innocent comments are perceived as criticism and met with defensiveness or counterattacks. A wonderful, loving moment gets ruined by a slight misunderstanding that escalates to nastiness. Tension and anxiety build as more interactions foster negative bias, overwhelming you and your partner with feelings of anger, frustration, hurt and resentment.

Are You Feeling Powerless And Panicked As Your Relationship Worsens?

Against best intentions, you and your partner may be getting pulled into conflict, often squabbling over trivialities. Other times, you may argue about money, sex, chores, time spent together, scheduling priorities, differences in emotional needs (e.g. more closeness versus more space) and consequential differences of opinion.

You wonder, "How can this be happening?" as you yearn for the early days when you were the center of your partner’s universe. Now, these recollections serve as a painful contrast to feeling misunderstood, unappreciated, disrespected or even devalued.

If this describes your situation, take heart!  This pattern of disaffection is a common malaise that plagues many couples. It feels like a beautiful promise has morphed into disaster. But this is not how the cruel tale has to end. On the contrary, it can lead to a new beginning.

Couples Counseling Can Help You And Your Partner Reconnect

At this point you may already recognize that what you’re doing isn’t working, even if your approach is well-intentioned and sincere and you are fully committed to improving your relationship. Seeking professional help significantly increases your odds of rescuing the relationship from stagnation or separation. As an experienced and compassionate couples therapist, I can educate you on what makes relationships succeed and fail and help you navigate through your unique challenges and difficulties. 

My style is warm, engaged, direct and highly interactive. I see couples work as a team effort, while wearing various hats as coach, counselor/therapist, facilitator, mediator and every once in a while, traffic cop to restore order when clients “lose it.” I won’t be shy about challenging you and/or your partner when it’s helpful and appropriate. My clients want and expect that from me. I assign exercises as a way to extend and amplify our lessons.  My sessions are lively and fun, interlaced with humor, laughter, stories and jokes to illustrate points that move us toward the end goal in mind.

Couples counseling offers a wealth of remedies and strategies that have helped many couples improve their relationship. Through our couples work, I can help you and your partner understand better the strengths and weaknesses of your relationship through a thorough assessment process that can precisely target where to build strengths and overcome weaknesses.  Focused interventions and skills-building practices will empower you both to better manage conflict and foster a deeper emotional connection. My approach is geared toward revealing and strengthening the authentic bond that originally united you, paving the way for a viable, mutually fulfilling partnership.

In Our Couples Work Together, You and Your Partner Can Learn To:

  • Better understand how your relationship works, its strengths and weaknesses
  • Recognize and avoid triggers that generate a cycle of negativity
  • Communicate from you wisdom center rather than from emotional reactivity
  • Create a "new dance" by developing mutually satisfying ways of interacting
  • Utilize your partnership as a path toward growth and transformation

With the help of a skilled couples therapist, the right approach, and a willingness to explore your relationship and your selves, it is possible to rediscover and solidify the deep, intimate connection with your partner. You can develop healthy ways to resolve conflict and learn more about each other in the process. Through couples counseling, you can create a loving, connected and mutually fulfilling relationship.

But you may still have questions or concerns about couples counseling…

 What if my partner won’t come?

Before we meet in person, I interview each partner individually on the phone to get a sense of where you’re at and what your issues and goals are. This conversation typically persuades that reluctant, skeptical partner to give one session a try. If your partner remains firmly opposed to couples counseling then we move on to Plan B. Remember, it takes two to tango, but only one to stop the dance.  I welcome one-partner couples counseling, which is geared toward producing a shift in the partner I’m seeing. Together, we develop self-insight, a greater understanding of the partner dynamic, and relational and communication skills. As the relationship improves, or as the absent partner experiences these positive changes, the absent partner becomes persuaded to join in the couples work.

Successful one-partner couples counseling: a client’s testimony

"The past 10 months have been an extraordinary journey for me. You helped me to understand myself and my partner better; you helped our relationship and our family tremendously. I want to say thank you sincerely."  Her husband was also impressed by the change. He eagerly joined our sessions and experienced a breakthrough of his own. Years later when I encountered him at a grocery store he expressed deep gratitude for the radical transformation he underwent.

How long will Couples Counseling take? Does it take years… then maybe not work?

From my experience, work with couples takes place in weeks and months, not years. Single-issue couples (e.g. disagreement on having a child or disagreements about career choices) reach resolution in a few sessions. My couples counseling work is solution-focused, compared to individual therapy, which may require more open-ended exploration and self-discovery. My work with couples is goal-oriented and focused on developing partner empathy, listening and communicating skills, setting healthy boundaries, recognizing each other’s needs, nurturing positive interactions and negotiating difference. I don’t delve unnecessarily into the past (which takes a lot of time) unless it pertains to understanding how it has shaped current behavior.

We have already been to several couples therapists and nothing has helped. How will working with you be different?

I cannot guarantee outcomes because I don’t know how dedicated you are to making your relationship work. However, if the love between you two is deep and genuine and some level of commitment to each other is present, I can provide guidance and tools to help you make your relationship more mutually satisfying. I cannot create the “glue” of your relationship, but I can help solidify the glue that bonds you.

Testimony from a newly engaged couple previously iffy about marriage

Even fragile and “iffy” relationships can be rescued. This couple was on the brink of splitting up. She was unsure if he was “the one” and he was desperate to hold on, but hesitant to propose. Our work revealed that under all the frequent face-offs, name-calling, emotional meltdowns, bad behavior and appalling communication patterns between them was a genuine bond of love and caring. When I demonstrated the configuration of their “deadly dance” they were stunned and eager to learn “new dance steps.” When each of them understood the other’s character and how to deal with it, her faith and trust in him grew and he overcame his fear of commitment. When she flashed her engagement ring, I was gratified to learn that couples counseling enabled them to take that great leap forward after several years of indecision.

What if we realize in sessions that we’re headed for break-up?

Truth be told, not all relationships can be saved. Some pairings are a bad idea from the start and sometimes partners grow in different directions. Although gut-wrenching, it can be merciful to discover sooner rather than later that you’re indeed in a bad, dysfunctional fit, and you both deserve better.  Clients often thank me for their “awakening” and for providing them with the emotional clarity and courage to leave the relationship.

A Fulfilling And Connected Relationship Can Be Yours!

Please contact me for a free, no-obligation 20-minute phone consultation at 1-415-781-0317 or send me an email at [email protected]  I look forward to hearing from you!

Gay and Lesbian couples welcome!