“Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.”
The Harvard Study of Adult Development, 2017
I work with couples that have 2 members who both want to:
- Feel understood and loved
- Feel emotionally safe
- Develop and/or hone verbal and non-verbal communication skills that help couples have conversations in pursuit of including each member’s needs, feelings, and preferences
- Repair arguments more quickly
- Understand self and partner better and how they relate to another, based on history, temperament etc.
- Get to the heart of what causes friction and learn skills to create bonding
- Approach and respond to one another with greater connection
- Engage in back and forth discussions that honor and elevate each member
- Assert important personal objectives with your partner while maintaining the relationship connection
- Lovingly set limits with one another
- Emotionally attract your partner effectively and quickly
- Effectively manage outside influences together
- Slow conversations down so that each members can be more intentional and feel safe
- Help couple identify and tolerate feelings in self and partner
I identify overarching issues and themes that help define the skills needed to improve your relationship connection.
I walk couples through what is getting in their way of connecting, building on their strengths, and practicing skills in session that will then solidify and satisfy the deeper needs of each partner.
Common situations I help couples with:
- Understanding and navigating conflict
- Time periods of drifting apart
- Betrayals and repairs
- Discernment (figuring out whether couples want to divorce)
Common issues that couple treatment can help with for individuals within the couple:
Fear of abandonment
Feelings of unfairness
Fear of authority
Terrified of personal criticism
More concerned with others than self
Confusion of love and pity
Unyielding self-scrutiny and judgment
Learning to be situation actors instead of situation readers
I use the PACT (Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy) model to treat relationship issues. This model orients and encourages the couple to have a 2-person, secure-functioning relationship which elevates the need for mutuality, tracking and understanding reactions your partner has, and making a decision to do what works for you AND your partner. This model values a goal of both understanding yourself, your partner, and how to effectively relate and connect so that greater ease and harmony exists in your relationship. This does NOT mean that you hide your needs to suit your partner. It means that you learn to juggle — to regulate your own and your partner’s nervous system so that each of you feel safe, allow for comfortable expression and workable solutions as individuals AND a team. This means that you’ll be developing a WE orientation versus an I orientation.
The model draws from attachment theory, somatic work, and neurobiology. We look to your experience of early attachment figures to inform us about what to expect from a primary relationship. We also find gestures or moves that you are good at based on your experience, such as facial expressions and body positioning, that welcome your partner as well as moves that need exercise and development, such as saying “no” with a tone and gesturing that appears loving. We are often good at some moves and not at others. Since relationships are a procedure and we learn how to function in a relationship based on the facial expressions, body language, and gesturing that was offered to us by our early caregivers; in a sense they have been “downloaded” into us. Like learning to play an instrument, learning to function well in a relationship requires doing rather than talking about.