Couples can enter therapy for many different reasons. Sometimes it is a crisis which brings them in, such as the discovery of an extramarital affair, or a death in the family, or some other type of loss or trauma. Other times, couples are finding themselves in conflict a great deal of the time, or they express difficulties with communication. Maybe they are having trouble adjusting to living together, or parenthood. Perhaps they are struggling with parenting challenges and differences which are threatening their respect for one another. They may be facing decisions concerning retirement or new opportunities, or issues arising when one of them wants to do something which seems to challenge their stability as a couple. It may be as simple and as complex as wanting a greater sense of connection in their relationship. Any reason is a good reason for engaging in couples counselling, as daunting as that prospect may be. Couples therapy is not easy, but I strive to make it as emotionally safe for both as possible.
In the course of working with couples, it’s important for me to hold the balance between learning about what each individual wants and needs, their beliefs, their feelings and values, their hopes and dreams, and learning about the dynamics of their communication and how they connect and disconnect from one another. Ultimately I want to help couples move beyond who is right or wrong, or who is at fault, to a place where each can see how whatever is going on in their relationship has something to teach them about who they are and what is essential to their growth as people. Real intimacy can only arise from this place of honest self-expression, and between two people who are differentiated, meaning that they are not wholly dependent on the other to validate their sense of self, and self-worth. It is difficult, if not impossible, to truly love from a place of fear, guilt and resentment. The alternative is learning to speak, to listen, and to accept, what both you and your partner have to say, much of which may well feel threatening. Yet there is great relief in clarity – in no longer feeling stuck- and seeing a path forward.
My training in relationship therapy draws on much post-graduate study over the years with teachers renowned in the field. I draw on specific interventions as relevant, and will share resources and suggestions for work outside our therapy sessions as appropriate.