Couples/Relationship Therapy

Maintaining a healthy, functional, and satisfying relationship is hard. The struggle is real. On average, couples wait six years from the first signs of problems before seeking help. About 40 percent of first marriages end in divorce and 60 percent of second marriages. Whether you are in a monogamous or non-monogamous relationship structure, I can help you move your partnership in the direction you desire.

My approach to couples work is primarily influenced by Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy (PACT), which draws upon the body, neuroscience, attachment theory, family systems, mindfulness, psychoanalytic/psychodynamic, and social justice. Depending on each couples’ specific needs, I also draw from a background in the Developmental Model (Couple’s Institute), the work of Ester Perel, Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), and a number of other models.

One of the many joys of working with couples from a PACT perspective is helping couples learn to become better attuned to each other in the here-and-now and to always put their relationship first. Secure functioning couples can argue about the very difficult problems they face without being a threat to each other; and without threatening the relationship. 

I will help you work towards:

  • Addressing sexual difficulties (e.g., desire discrepancy, sexual dysfunction/pain, past sexual trauma, out-of-control sexual behaviors) and being able to articulate your sexual needs and desires with your partner(s).

  • Creating a mutually beneficial couple agreement: What are the new rules of engagement for your partnership(s)? Are you willing and committed to forming satisfying and lasting agreements based on fairness, justice, sensitivity, and respect? And if not, what prevents you from doing so?

  • Teaching you to better hear and read the verbal and non-verbal signals you send to each other: What are the things you both do individually, or as a team, which contribute to fueling the fire of conflicts? Is one (or both) of you constantly threatening the relationship by making snarky or passive-aggressive comments when you don’t like what your partner says, threatening to end the relationship, avoiding talking about difficult subjects, or withholding important information from your partner?

  • Management of thirds: What are the “thirds” in your relationship that create conflicts between the two of you and jeopardize the safety of your relationship? Are your kids, the in-laws, ex’s, work, coworkers, technology, drugs and/or alcohol contributing to making your relationship less secure?

  • Asking for help in periods of stress: Are you (as a couple) willing and able to co-regulate (quickly shift one another’s emotional states) in periods of stress and vulnerability? Or to the contrary, do you revert back to your old patterns of self-regulation (withdrawal, isolation, numbing, etc.) or external-regulation (keeping busy and looking outside of the relationship for what is missing inside)?

When working with a couple, I am committed to:

  • Helping you both better understand how your emotions and psychological states of mind can drastically shift, sometimes within seconds, leading you from feeling satisfied and emotionally connected to each other, to feeling frustrated, angry, sad, judgmental or disconnected; and what to do in these difficult, painful and stressful situations to repair your relationship and connection.

  • Empower you both to identify, and quickly change each other’s emotional and mental state when you are stressed-out, having an argument, or frustrated; so that these states don’t have to last hours, or days on end, and hijack your relationship.

  • Teach you how to control and modulate the connection with your significant other, and everyone else you come in contact with, so that your relationship always remains a secure and safe base. You will remember that you are experts on one another.

  • Coach you to preserve the connection, intimacy, romance, sexuality, and all of the other great attributes that make your partnership special and unique to the two of you.

PACT draws upon cutting edge research in 3 areas:

  • Neuroscience: the study of the human brain. Neuroscience provides important information about how the Primitives (the implicit, non-verbal, fast, and cheap parts of our brain) can hijack the Ambassadors (the higher, conscious, verbal, and empathic parts of our brain). The Primitives, wired for survival, unconsciously pull couples into states of fight, flight, or freeze— leading partners to escalate conflict through anger or withdrawal, blowing things up or shutting them down — where productive, loving communication becomes impossible. Because of the way long-term memory works, such reactive patterns will increase and escalate over time, making it difficult for partners to feel safe, secure, and happy together.

  • Attachment Theory: studies how partners bond emotionally. Experiences in our early relationships create a blueprint that informs the sense of safety, well-being, mutual positive regard, love and happiness that we bring into adult relationships.

  • Biology of Human Arousal: the moment-to-moment ability to manage your energy, alertness, and readiness to engage