My allegiance is to the couple rather than to either partner and it’s essential that both see me as neutral and fair. Initially we address any crises in order to stabilize the situation. I will ask each to talk about what they hope will happen in therapy. Then we briefly discuss the history of the relationship, as well as family history, in order to understand what each person brings into the current situation and how the past influences the present.
Much of the therapy involves helping partners to really understand what the other needs, wants and feels. Often communication is blocked by anger, blame, past hurts and difficulty expressing vulnerability. Many of us are used to fighting rather than listening with open hearts, in order to feel defended against further pain. But defensive behavior only leads to circular arguments and frustration. It’s critical to slow the fights down, clarify what is really being said, and understand what’s under the words. We need less heat and more light. Resolving conflict depends on both members of the couple understanding how the conflicts arise, how to defuse them, and the role each person plays. I can help you to break out of old, stuck patterns.
Problem-solving is also important as couples deal with real world issues and stressors. Brainstorming and working through options in a thoughtful manner can create new and more functional patterns. We’ll discuss various possibilities, such as anger management, consulting financial advisors, finding suitable childcare, using Twelve Step programs, exploring sexuality, attending parenting classes, etc.