COUPLES PRACTICE PHILOSOPHY
In couples, we all fall into routine patterns with our partner over time. These natural rhythms of action and reaction can often help us to communicate and manage daily life more smoothly. However, in some circumstances, couples become locked into cycles of interaction that are not helpful. For example, one partner may lash out in anger when they are actually feeling hurt or scared underneath, and another partner may withdraw in silence when yearning for closeness and connection. Often, these kinds of patterns are influenced by earlier relationships with family or past partners and have developed based on a need for some kind of self-protection or defense against hurt. In couples work, we will work to help each partner get to the bottom of what they are really feeling, to express one’s self more openly to one’s partner, and to respond to one’s partner from a place of curiosity and respect rather than attack or avoidance.
When our emotion systems go awry, it can be difficult or impossible to meet our needs. This often leads to pervasive discomfort including symptoms of anxiety, depression, and/or efforts to manage feelings through avoidance or distractions such as drinking, drug use, exercise, eating, and sex. In couples relationships, this can also look like patterns of bickering, rehashing the same old arguments over and over again, looking outside the relationship for emotional support or sexual connection, or patterns of silence and stonewalling that hurt ourselves and our loved ones. We believe that stuck emotional patterns are most effectively changed by changing emotion with emotion, and by responding with honesty and integrity in our relationships.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE FIRST FEW SESSIONS
In the first few sessions, we will talk in depth about your current challenges, about how you met, about the experiences that have led up to this point in your lives, and about each of your family and relationship histories. We will work with you to develop a preliminary shared understanding of your current experience as individuals and as a couple, and our plan to help you to move forward. By the fourth or fifth session we will typically begin to actively address and transform the concerns that have brought you into therapy. Duration of therapy varies widely depending upon a couple’s concerns, and desired outcomes. Therapy duration can vary from 6-10 sessions to a year or more when infidelity or broken trust has been central in a couple's challenges.