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Couples Counseling

Are You Feeling Unhappy, Unfulfilled or Uncertain in Your Relationship?

Does communication with your partner feel strained or even unbearable? Has an affair or another breach of trust left you feeling worried, angry or betrayed, questioning if reconnection possible? Do you often find yourself preoccupied with your partner’s happiness rather than your own? Perhaps you have regular fights that never seem to reach resolution. Or maybe when you do try to talk through issues, one of you counterattacks with a problem from the past, which opens old wounds and keeps you stuck in a defensive, combative cycle. Are you all too familiar with the silent treatment? Has a growing distrust become overwhelming, fueling heavy emotions of anxiety and sadness?

Feeling estranged from your partner can be a frustrating, lonely and hurtful experience. Falling into a perpetual cycle of unresolved arguments can create tension and secrets. You may want to reach out to your partner, but hold back because you fear another fight. Maybe you once took good care of each other, but the discord and tension are now so profound that you both focus instead on taking care of yourselves. Do you wish you could find a way to effectively connect and communicate with your partner again and work through this challenging time as a team?

All Couples Bump Up Against Challenges

At times, all couples experience differences and have disagreements. And, it really doesn’t matter how often couples fight. What really matters is how partners resolve and come back together to work as a team. But, many of us don’t know how to resolve conflict effectively. Growing up, many of us did not have good example of healthy, intimate relationships. We weren’t taught how to be good partners, so we simply don’t know how. Furthermore, popular American culture frequently equates independence and productivity with great success, while compassionate emotions, such as vulnerability and empathy, are associated with weakness. Even more, popular drama TV series often portray men and women in traditional gender roles, as well as in marriages that have frequent affairs. Images like these seem to normalize unrealistic scenarios and expectations, which in turn, can cause dysfunction.

Relationship challenges are extremely common, and almost all couples could strengthen their communication and connection through couples counseling. However, there are times when couples really need neutral, professional guidance and support. If you and your partner want to stay together but constantly engage in ongoing arguments, struggle with infidelity or feel isolated, a compassionate and skilled psychologist can help you reconnect, effectively communicate your needs and relate in healthy ways. With support and a safe space for healing and growth, you and your partner can discover new harmonious ways of communicating.

Couples Counseling Can Help You Reconnect With Your Partner

I offer a safe and compassionate environment for you and your partner to learn how to identify what divides you and work toward returning to a place of trust and emotional, physical and spiritual connection. Remember that you two are in each other’s care. In relationships, when we learn how to truly care for our partner, vast possibilities for happiness and connection can emerge. Couples counseling will be very effective if you and your partner are mutually willing to change the way you interact and if you both accept responsibility of for the dysfunctional dynamic you’ve co-created. If you’re both willing to openly and honestly engage in the couples counseling process, anything is possible.

In sessions, we will work in the moment, navigating issues as they arise. Using a Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy (PACT), I can help you and your partner navigate moment-to-moment stress, anger, fear or excitement and explore how to manage these feelings. This process allows each of you to gain clarity about your own thoughts and feelings and helps you become more attuned to those of your partner.

I hold a no-secrets-policy, meaning I will not keep secrets for either of you. No matter what’s going on, I encourage an open, honest dialogue about how you’re feeling. During our sessions, you can discuss past and pressing issues and the arguments you continue to have, while simultaneously learning new ways of identifying your individual needs and communication styles. As a third-party witnessing your dynamic exchanges, I can offer suggestions about your different communication and attachment styles that may reveal new levels of understanding and awareness.

Partnership can be very difficult. We often expect our partner to meet our needs without explicitly naming what those needs are. And, when these needs are not met we tend to become defensive. The good news is that with the guidance and support of an experienced couples psychologist, you can learn how to communicate from a less judgmental perspective. As you and your partner begin to connect deeply and take healthy risks, you can experience more ease and joy in all aspects of your lives.

Although you may want to reconnect with your partner, you still may have some questions or concerns about couples counseling…

What if my partner doesn’t want to come to therapy?

Couples therapy is all about both of you working together toward healthy communication. It takes two to make a relationship, and it also takes two to break one. While therapy is most effective when both partners are present, if your partner is not willing to join couples counseling, I recommend that you consider individual therapy. Often, when a couple is experiencing distress and one partner receives therapy, the other partner takes notice and decides to join.

There are things that I don’t want to talk about.

It can be very painful to discuss things that are highly personal; however, if you and your partner are not able to get everything out on the table, especially in a safe and non-judgmental environment, then progress is not feasible. Sometimes, if we’re working through issues that are really intense and painful, I may recommend not bringing that issue up again with your partner until we return to a safe environment in session. In a safe, non-judgmental and compassionate environment you have the ability and freedom to open up and develop new ways of communicating and connecting with your partner.

What if couples counseling can’t help us?

I’m here to help you improve your relationship. Remember that you two chose each other. During our sessions we will explore why you chose each other and what it’ll take for you to stay together. My goal is to help you connect and relate in healthier ways, but ultimately, you and your partner will need to determine whether or not you can do this work. In rare cases, if the betrayal is incredibly deep and profound, I may recommend a therapeutic separation and continuing therapy in individual sessions. A separation in some cases can help couples better understand what they want. This, however, is a last resort. The goal of couples counseling is to help you learn how to truly be each other’s care. By taking the focus off of individuality, you and your partner can begin to collaborate and reestablish a strong bond.

You And Your Partner Deserve To Be Happy

If you’re ready to rediscover the joy in your relationship, please call (520) 326-5761 or email me at ssticken@live.com to learn how couples counseling can help you and your partner strengthen your connection and improve your life together.