“Love is a joint experience between two persons — but the fact that it is a joint experience does not mean that it is a similar experience to the two people involved.”
 

Carson McCullers — The Ballad of the Sad Café

Couple Therapy

All relationships inevitably face times of conflict, disconnection, and misunderstandings during the normal but difficult growth processes and inevitable roadblocks within love relationships. Emotional gridlock, death of desire, sexual boredom, lack of intimacy are just a few examples. These natural growth developments regularly push couples outside their comfort zones. Connecting in a real, creative way with your partner is not always harmonious or comfortable; we all experience fear, anger, shame and hopelessness. However, cycles of conflict create two demoralized people who move away to protect themselves, adding fuel to the feeling that each does not matter to their mate. These feelings can arise for couples when they go through a life change or crisis entailing a loss to do with any number of significant events: acute and chronic illness, grief, work, infidelity, separation, the arrival of children, step-parenting, retirement. These difficulties may be experienced emotionally, sexually or indeed physically in a number of ways.

Couple work can help with depression and isolation, interrupt cycles of volatile angry outbursts and silent fearful withdrawal, stonewalling and blaming, and other patterns which reinforce despair about recovering intimacy or creating it authentically for the first time. It may help you get yourselves unstuck when a troubled relationship is affecting the emotional health and longterm well being of your children.

The primary focus of sessions will be to understand how each partner is feeling and thinking about the present situation. The work is based on a psychoanalytic model which means that both conscious and unconscious processes are given consideration in order to make sense of the difficulties experienced in your relationship. The focus of work will be the present, although a history of family relationships on both sides will also be taken to explore how they might have contributed to your ways of perceiving and interacting with each other. Tolerating the anxiety of hearing and saying difficult things is an outgrowth of a process of self-knowledge, self-regulation, and self-acceptance. Therapy focusses on each partner growing personally and freeing themselves from mindsets that fuel paralyzing circular arguments, power and control struggles, constant bitter fighting around loaded issues, and the death of intimacy.

Couple work can improve the mutual support you provide for each other. Often people who might hesitate to use psychological support on their own are able to attend and get something from doing so if their partner is also involved. The best cure for demoralization is seeing your efforts improve your relationship. Research has shown that couple therapy works better than anti-depressant medication in the treatment of adult depression.

Couple therapy does not always mean that people stay together. Understanding more can make it easier to stay, but if the decision is made to separate, having some consultations may help you to do so more thoughtfully and amically which safeguards the well-being of your children through this difficult time.

I work with couples in order to understand all sides of a problem. I see couples who are married, living together or apart, gay or straight.