What are your thoughts on Couples Counseling?

Couples Counseling Overview
Every couple is different, every couple is complicated, and every couple has trouble talking about one or more key issues. I help by coaching individuals to take risks, playing referee to keep the sessions safe, and working as a choreographer to help create healthy and honest communication.  My job is not to figure out who is right and who is wrong, my job is to help you communicate. 

My Approach: Fresh and Unbiased
I learn about what works and what does not work in your relationship. Some very happy couples live with a great deal of friction and conflict while some of the loneliest couples appear content to the outside world.  My approach is not to apply a textbook definition of a happy relationship to every couple I meet, but to tailor my help to your goals. Each couple has unique needs and each couple gets fresh therapy.  My goal is to resolve issues and promote healing through mutual cooperation, not through blaming and taking sides.

Three Effective Counseling Modalities
One of the first goals we will have as a team is to select the best style of counseling to help you grow or heal.  I have been influenced by two different techniques for helping couples.    
1) Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. This style focuses on the depth of connection and the processing of feelings. 
2) Imago Couples Counseling. This is a structured approach to thoroughly deepen the connection between two people.     The approach uses homework and in-session exercises to facilitate change.  It is a comprehensive approach that is very
    successful if both parties are motivated and have time to invest in the process.

What is Couples Counseling?
Therapy is the process of talking calmly about the major issues in your relationship.  Be advised that my goal in therapy is not to pick sides and figure out who is the "bad guy".  Even if you think that all of your relationship problems exist because of your partner's beliefs or behaviors, that is not a helpful stance in therapy.  I have found that the recipe for successful couples counseling is a pair of motivated workers, ready to put blame aside and start to look at their part in the negative cycle.  It is only when two people show each other that they take the issue seriously and are willing to begin adjusting their beliefs and behaviors that couples grow and healing can begin. 

Why do Couples seek Counseling?
Sometimes a relationship can simply reach a point in which you cannot talk about a certain subject without fighting.  If you are a couple looking for therapy, one of you may be feeling unloved, undervalued, or hopeless while the other might be feeling nagged, not good enough, or under impossible expectations.  All of these are common feelings associated with the pains of creating a close partnership between unique individuals in the context of our society. Freud said that "we are never more vulnerable then when we are in love." My job is not to change you or your partner but to help add the communication and relationship skills necessary to help your relationship thrive.

Giving What We Want
We love the way we want to be loved. We provide what we want or desire instead of what our partner needs.  Sound paradoxical? It is.  This error in basic empathy originates from a primitive human wish to be fully understood by the people closest to us. The implicit assumption of sameness that is so blatant and destructive within many couples leads us to give our partners what we want instead of what they want.  This applies to how we touch, what we talk about, or even what presents we give. 
A common example is frequency of phone contact within couples.  For instance we tend to call our partners (or text) as often and at the times that we would want to be - or not be - called (or texted).  We tend to give our partners what we want instead of what they want and we can't understand why they reject it. 

Giving What They Want
First off, our goal as partners is to figure out what it is that we want and then find a kind way to ask for it.  For some, this kind of "road-mapping" feels like it cheapens the love they receive. It doesn't.  Trust me, it will still feel good. 
Next, find out what your partner want and then give them what they want, even if it makes no sense to you.  This is the core compromise. The recognition that we are all different people with different needs and no set of needs and wishes is inherently better or worse. 

Not Easy
Now, sometimes this is not as easy as it sounds.  Issues crop up during communication in which it becomes difficult or impossible to feel heard.  Some couples have problems that must first be addressed before the lines of communication, compromise, and cooperation can be opened.  Examples of these are: financial issues, health concerns, lack of time together, individual history of trauma, substance use, or sexual problems. 

Couples Therapy Works
I have found that what helps most couples is not a resolution of the problems at hand but the spirit of joint effort and motivation in therapy. It is this teamwork that begins to bring satisfaction and happiness back to your relationship. 

Getting Started
To start, we will take turns outlining your concerns and then we will attempt to search for simple solutions to your solvable problems. We will test and tinker with our solutions and then begin to look deeper at your hidden fears and wishes. Trust is built through consistent demonstration of interpersonal learning and commitment.   Research shows that it is only when both partners are showing equal effort and curiosity does a couple begin to heal and grow.  I tend to work with couples each week for 12 weeks.

Learn More?
Check out my thoughts on The Crying Cure for Couples Conflict.  Feel free to read more of my thoughts on counseling in the Frequently Asked Questions section of the website. 
I invite you to learn more About Me and to Contact Me if you have any questions. 

My warmest regards,

Jeffrey


MFC #46775
Marriage and Family Therapist

Licensed by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) to practice Marriage and Family Therapy.  Member #80196 of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT).