How Can I Help?
If you’re tired of trying and hoping and waiting to feel loved, secure, engaged, and happy in your love life, then I have some good news.
There is a saying that “you don’t know what you don’t know.” When you have a third party, a trained coach, counselor, referee in the room, new things come to light. Probably the most important thing I offer couples is a third pair of eyes and ears. I can translate what you can’t get each other to hear. And I do it in a quiet, safe space where each person is honored. I’m not a judge looking for the “bad guy.” I’m looking for whatever is overlooked, that piece of the puzzle that the two of you keep missing when your argument doesn’t get resolved.
The problem with putting off the solution is that, in relationships, things usually get worse. Sure, problems come and go, and some years may be worse than others. Life happens. But when the pattern of communication is a problem, things can keep heading downhill. Getting help early can spell the difference between tolerating each other and feeling truly connected. It can also help you reverse course so that you can avoid losing the relationship altogether. The old adage “ignore it and it will go away” can really come true. But what will “go away” is a person you have loved and wanted in your life.
Marriage Counseling: Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy Works!
In fact, the field of marriage counseling has really grown and improved by leaps and bounds over the past 20 years. That’s good news because it was not so great for far too long. Time, experience, research and insight have greatly expanded what we can do to help couples not only break negative cycles but thrive. EFT is a highly researched, effective, proven method to help couples overcome problems and reconnect.
Decades of research and practice has revealed a lot about counseling. For one thing, just learning “how to behave” is not really helpful. Most of us know how we SHOULD behave. Who doesn’t know that you shouldn’t ignore someone you love, or say cruel things, or that spending time together is important? But for some reason actually doing the right things in the moment is much, much harder to do. What we’ve learned is there are reasons couples find it so hard to resolve disagreements and to feel connected, and those reasons usually involve how we feel when we are around each other.
How Does EFT Work?
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) offers a structured approach. It helps you understand what’s happening inside your relationship. Your emotions are often a guide that tells you what is important in a situation. They guide your behavior and decision-making in general, and especially with your partner. EFT focuses on helping recognize your underlying feelings. Then it gives you tools for expressing them effectively, and for choosing actions that have a positive impact. Communication becomes more clear and helpful.
Because all of this happens within the safety of a therapy session, it’s easier for you to work with difficult emotions. At home you don’t have a “referee” to make sure everybody plays fair. You and your partner can unpack past experiences. You can see if old hurts or negative thoughts from old events are impacting what’s happening today. Together, we can resolve these issues. We can find ways to make use of healthy emotions to strengthen your relationship.
The Lasting Impact of Marriage Counseling with Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
The overwhelming majority of couples who enter EFT therapy (and stick with it) find lasting improvements. Even more exciting is that with this kind of counseling, couples continue to improve long after finishing therapy. Why? Because it doesn’t only target your “problems” — it targets your patterns. It targets the WAY you look at problems, and each other. When these improve, you can tackle old and new problems in a better way.
EFT has been the focus of a great deal of research in recent years. To see some of the recent research, click here.
While the main focus of my ongoing study and practice is Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, my work is informed by a broader range of marriage research. I keep up to date with the information and research from Dr. John Gottman, whose body of work has been amazing in helping counselors around the world more deeply understand how to help couples. I’m also integrate information from Dr. Dan Siegel’s work on interpersonal neurobiology. His work brings in important information on mindfulness as well as how relationships impact the brain and vice versa.
When I sit with a couple, I am careful to listen for what unique approach will be needed to be the most helpful. For some couples, defusing recurring arguments is at the top of the list. For others, it may just be helping them become aware of their unexpressed needs or even learning to share things they didn’t know they were withholding from their partner. It’s very individual, of course. No two couples are exactly alike.
Finding a Marriage Counselor Who Fits
Here’s a good list I found on shopping around for the right marriage counselor. It offers ten important questions for your potential therapist. The answers will help you understand if he or she will be a good match for you. As I often tell my clients: finding the right marriage counselor is like finding the right doctor or car mechanic. If you aren’t getting what you want, you might need a second (or third…) opinion!
If you want to take a look at my training and licensing, visit my About Me page. My focus is on emotionally focused therapy (EFT) for couples. I think it’s important for each partner to be strong as individuals, but strengthening the couple together is essential. When working with couples, my approach is to focus on understanding where your reactions and behaviors are coming from. I help provide tools for using your emotions in a positive way to build a better relationship.
The list of questions I linked above also brings up two important points about whether a couple should even try to stay together or not. It mentions that the answer is often “it depends,” and I find that to be mostly true. However, I think that if a couple isn’t sure whether they should stay together, it also means that they are not sure whether they should separate either.
If a couple comes to me for help in keeping the marriage together, my goal is to do everything I can to help you do that. The only exceptions are in cases where there is clear danger to one partner or the family if he or she stays.
It’s not just about staying together. It’s much more than that. I think the quality of your marriage is at least as important as the length of it! Marriage counseling with me is about how to break through the stuff that gets in the way of making your life together happy.
“It’s Not The Years In Your Life, It’s the Life In Your Years.”
I could say the same about marriage. When you hear about a couple that’s been together for decades, there’s no tactful way to find out how many of those years were good. You also can’t ask how many were terrible, or how many were on autopilot. Seems rude. But the question is a huge one. What kind of relationship do you want? While constant happiness is not a goal I find reasonable, I do think that being out of misery isn’t too much to ask. After that, building up to mostly happy with occasional bursts of total joy should be within everyone’s reach. If we can’t have a foundation of “pretty good, most of the time,” what are we doing? And what about “pretty great sometimes”? Should that be a daydream, or a goal? I think it should be a reality, and reality starts with a goal.
Stop Waiting For It To Get Better. Schedule A Session
One small step can put you on a path to improve your marriage.