Common reasons that couples seek counseling include:
- Wanting to improve communication and connection
- Conflict styles that are harming the trust and intimacy in the relationship
- Navigating life changes as a couple
- Emotional abuse and/or manipulation
- Recovering from infidelity
- Sexual intimacy and/or sexual dysfunction issues
- Parenting challenges
- Challenging relationships with clients' families of origin
My approach to couples counseling focuses on identifying, communicating, and meeting the core relational needs of each partner. In doing couples counseling, I am interested in the psychological and relational health of each individual as well as the health of the relationship. My initial focus in couples counseling is to help each individual understand their relational history and style of relating through looking at their family of origin and significant, formative experiences in their relational history. As each individual grows in their understanding of how they have learned to experience core aspects of relationships (e.g., intimacy, communication, conflict), the work in counseling is then to identify how these factors have informed the relational style of the couple.
In couples counseling, often we focus on identifying the relational cycles that are perpetuating the problems in the relationship. Often the problematic ways couples relate to one another will occur in session, so many times I will focus on how these problems are happening in the counseling session. It is important to create new relational approaches in session, ones that work better for both individuals to more effectively get their needs met.
I will often assign homework and exercises for couples between sessions. These exercises are based on leading research in marriage and family psychology. I particularly am informed by the research of Les Greenberg, Sue Johnson, and John Gottman. Each individual and each couple is different, so the homework I assign (both type and frequency) will depend on the characteristics of the couple and the therapy goals.
To learn more about my approach to therapy, check out the Therapeutic Approach page.