Couples therapy encompasses work with any two people wishing to begin, enhance, repair, or dismantle an intimate relationship. Sometimes one or both people in a couple do not know whether they wish to work toward increased connection and intimacy, or to break up. I usually need to spend some time with each person to explore individual perspectives before proposing a plan of action. This may vary from 20 minutes to several sessions, depending on the complexity of the issues.
As with individual therapy, I consider attuned listening to be the foundation of good couple therapy. In couple therapy though, as with family therapy, there is more emphasis on listening to the process than on listening to the content. In other words, I am more interested in how you disagree than on what you disagree about. I am not here to judge who is right and who is wrong, but to help you find solutions that are respectful of both person’s needs and desires.
I have been trained in the following methods of couples therapy:
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
This therapy focuses on the primacy of the attachment bond and teaches people to recognize and regulate their emotions. It is well validated in research. Sue Johnson, co-founder of EFT, has written a popular book called Hold Me Tight.
John Gottman’s Therapy for Couples
John Gottman is the world’s leading researcher on couple health, and has created a list of seven principles that underlie happy and healthy relationships, as well as methods for helping couples incorporate these principles into their everyday lives. (See his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work).
Relational Life Therapy
This is a newer, but increasingly popular form of marital therapy that takes into account social and cultural expectations of marriage and intimacy. Terry Real says that while other forms of therapy teach skills, his method deals with the part of you that won’t use them. See the book The New Rules of Marriage by Terrence Real.