Couples Counseling

Couples and Family Counseling in Mill Valley CA

The bottom line for most couples who seek counseling and therapy is that something simply is not working. Starting therapy is a big step and one that can be scary, especially if you’ve never done any kind of counseling before. It takes a tremendous amount of courage in order to admit there is a problem and help is needed.

One of the most important areas I address is the quality of communication. A relationship needs attentive, responsive, and engaged communication like a plant needs water. There often may be what is called a negative feed back loop, where the communication seems to be spinning like it is on a hamster wheel and neither partner feels seen, heard, or understood. This pattern is repetitive and ultimately leaves both partners in a confusing and often frustrating place.

My background is Emotionally Focused Therapy, informed by Gottman. The basic formula for couples counseling:

  • De-escalation;
  • Binary Active Listening Skills;
  • Apology;
  • Forgiveness;
  • Negotiation.

This pattern is a linear one. It is complicated and takes some time to negotiate, particularly as there are typically a new set of skills to learn. This is something I enjoy doing, and am very happy to work with every couple as they learn how to work more closely and intimately with their partner.

Ultimately, my work with couples and relationships involves a an over arching simple structure:

  • When two people come together they form a third party called relationship, or us; simply stated there always are 3 parties: a you, a me, and an us. We spend the sessions together taking the unwritten rules and patterns of us out of the imaginary world and allowing it to show up in the room. We begin to dissect and understand the cycle the relationship finds itself in.
  • All humans at the age of 2 have roughly defined their personalities. After that age, life situations usually reinforce the patterns our personality already has, and by the time we are adults its quite complicated. This often becomes the focus as the counseling gets more developed and involved. What are the belief systems each individual has about relationship? What style of attachment do I have or I am used to?
  • Lastly, what do the other two parties (the you and I) contribute to us, and most importantly what do you and I want out of the relationship called us? This is usually in the later stage of counseling and signifies things in the relationship are starting to shift.

Relationship counseling for the entire family.

I work with couples in a number of different ways; It could be couples counseling, premarital counseling, marriage counseling, or even divorce counseling. All relationships in the family are based in and around the primary couple, and as the couple evolves and grows so does the rest of the family.

I look forward working with you.

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