Couples, Relationships, & Intimacy
“Love is an action even more than a feeling. It requires intention and attention, a practice we call attunement.” Dr. John Gottman
We are social beings, and human connection is an essential component of our happiness and overall health. Fulfilling relationships play an important role in our mental and emotional well-being, giving us a greater sense of contentment and joy. When relationships fail to meet our expectations, it can deeply affect our sense of self and happiness.
By addressing relational challenges with empathy in a supportive therapeutic environment, together, we can pave the way for growth, healing, and the development of meaningful, lasting connections in your life.
Stages of Relationships Addressed in Therapy
Dating: Exploring new connections and potential partners
Engagement: Nurturing commitment and planning for the future, also often referred to as pre-marital counseling
Marriage or Partnership: Building a life together and navigating challenges
Divorce or Loss of a Partner: Coping with separation, grief, rebuilding, and, sometimes, co-parenting
Common Issues Addressed in Couples Therapy
Your attachment style to other human beings was formed at a young age, but can change over time. Understanding your attachment patterns can shed light on how you relate to others and how you seek closeness or distance in relationships. By understanding these patterns, you can work to identify and resolve any unhealthy attachment behaviors, allowing you to cultivate more secure and fulfilling connections with your partner.
Effectively communicating is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. While acknowledging the importance of clear, honest, and respectful communication, we can often find that it is difficult to achieve consistently in practice.
Therapy presents an opportunity to work on your own, or with your partner, to improve your communication skills, including active listening skills and learning how to talk about your feelings and needs constructively. Many of the tools that I use for skill building around communication are based on the Gottman Method of couples therapy, which is based on empirical evidence of over 3,000 couples over 40 years, making it the most evidence-based couples work available. During sessions, I provide the space to practice the skills you are learning that you will continue to develop outside of session. This often includes the aid of videos and handouts that are sent home to reinforce what you are working on.
Through strengthening your communication, you can limit misunderstandings, increase a heart-to-heart connection, and manage conflicts more effectively, leading to greater understanding and intimacy in your relationship.
Sex and Intimacy
Open communication about intimacy is essential for deep emotional connection and trust in a relationship. Therapy is a safe space to discuss any concerns or desires you have, helping you and your partner navigate this important topic with sensitivity and understanding.
I approach intimacy concerns from a sex-positive perspective and with an understanding that sex is an important component of intimacy and relationship health. Common issues that are addressed in couples therapy include desire discrepancy, shifts due to having children, menopause, or major life stressors, navigating open relationships, and rebuilding trust after infidelity. I have experience with all types of couples including trans, cis, straight, and queer relationships.
Maintaining Your Sense of Self
You are an individual with unique needs and desires both inside and outside your relationship. To have a healthy relationship, you need to focus on maintaining individuality within your partnership. Finding the balance between being part of a couple while preserving your unique identity can be challenging at times. Therapy can help you achieve the balance between honoring your personal interests, goals, and values within the context of your relationship.
Therapy can help offer guidance and support throughout all stages of relationships, starting with intentional dating. Through therapy, you can explore what you truly desire in a partner and learn how to build healthy connections with compatible individuals. By gaining a deeper understanding of your needs and preferences, you can approach dating with intention and a value-oriented focus about your potential partners.
Dating is a wonderful opportunity for growth as you will be able to see different versions of yourself reflected back in the eyes of potential partners. When engaging in intentional dating, even "bad" dates can offer something worthwhile to your personal development. Making meaning of your experience can be the difference between dating being an activity that you dread and one that you can find enjoyment in, or, at least a sense of purpose.
Another crucial aspect of relationship therapy involves a values assessment. Identifying your core values is essential in ensuring alignment within relationships--exploring your values and how they impact your relationship choices. Through understanding your values and those of your partner, you can create a strong foundation of shared values, promoting harmony and mutual understanding in your partnership.
Learning to set healthy boundaries is an important aspect of being in relation to others. Therapy is an opportunity to explore boundary-setting and communication strategies to protect your emotional well-being. Healthy boundaries will help you create a safe and respectful space within your relationship. They can also help you recognize when there is mistreatment or abuse taking place.
If you are ready to seek relationship support as a couple, I would meet with both you and your partner together for a complimentary consultation to assess fit.