Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there. Rumi
My approach to working with couples brings together the most powerful ideas and practices I have learned through extensive study of Emotionally Focused Therapy, Emotional Brain Training, and the most powerful school of all—34 years of married life. My intention is that the couples I work with grow more connected and more joyful in their relationship.
These are some of the capacities I help couples develop:
- Increased safety, so that each partner can express feelings at a deeper level. The distress signals we feel can, when we feel safe enough, lead us to healthy needs and emotions.
- A greater sense of being understood. As the partners feel understood by me, they feel more confident and can begin to give voice to key parts of their own experience (rather than their position). Their messages grow gradually softer and more open, making it easier for each partner to hear the other. In addition, as I bring understanding to each partner, the partner witnessing this becomes more able to join me in this understanding.
- An understanding of patterns. When the couple sees the negative cycle that is happening between them, they have a better chance of stepping outside of it together. They are also less likely to attribute their distress to individual failings. Instead they can “blame the cycle” that gets going between them.
- Greater ability to repair disruptions. A fight can leave partners angry, scared, alone, and lacking confidence in the relationship. I help people discover both what they hope for and what they regret. Too often an explanation gets in the way of an apology. I teach each person how to give and receive a full and healing apology.
- More capacity to speak openly about difficult emotions or thoughts. What do we do with feelings or thoughts that we are afraid to talk about? Too often partners stay in private worlds, creating distance. I help partners feel and express their inner truths. Being able to truly confide to each other is a core strength of a couple.
- Greater ability to solve problems together. When partners know what the deeper “emotional stakes” are, they can more easily make decisions and agreements together. The issues that start fights (or that keep us quiet in fear of starting a fight) seem easier to handle when we feel important, understood, connected – and when we sense that our partner sees us as a good person.
- Stronger capacity to create joy and pleasure, whether through touch, humor, shared experiences or acts of kindness. I gently help to cultivate these qualities. Small steps in the direction of more joy and pleasure create the hope and confidence the couple needs to stay resilient with their challenges.