couples & family

Sometimes the patterns we reenact out of habit or survival become entangled with those of whom we love the most.  It is brave to choose help, and it takes courage and commitment to seek change together.  Perhaps you are seeking counseling because there are recent tensions between you and your partner due to overwhelming life stressors, or maybe maladaptive patterns of communication between you and your family members have allowed the frustrations and resentment to heighten and you feel you need assistance in unpacking the hurt in order to rebuild.  Life's transitions, unexpected or otherwise, can sometimes trigger relapse into old addictions or incipient coping mechanisms that erode the foundation of your partnership or family system.  If you are contemplating assistance, early intervention is always most ideal.  We are inherently relational creatures and when our most primary relationships feel awry, our own mental well-being suffers. I commend you for your reach together.

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What to expect

Much like individual counseling, I will serve only as a facilitator for the growth you will work toward in your own lives.  A counselor can assist by holding the collective hurt and frustration in order to make sifting through the reactive and cumbersome in order to more clearly sit with and explore the heart of the matter.  It is my job to hold you both or all accountable to yourselves and to one another, as our sessions will serve as a place to see more clearly and honestly that which needs care, attention, and change in order to move forward in a more peaceful way together and individually.  This work is never easy.  It requires commitment between each of you, and our sessions together will not always leave you feeling resolved. Undoubtedly, your work together will reveal wounds of attachment and learned ways of relating that are borne out of unresolved trauma.  Healing is never a straightforward process, and working within a relationship requires balance of both patience and motivation, self-compassion and ferocious vulnerability, both personally, and for the one(s) you love. 

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Addiction and relationships

There is much literature about the impact of addiction upon relationships and family dynamics. I am open to working with couples in early recovery, though such work in particular demands a vigilance to both your personal work individually in order to grow in concert.  

All addictions are cyclical in nature, be it substance abuse, sex addiction, or codependency.  They are a means of control over one's self and one's environment - avoidance of the deepest, most pained parts of ourselves.  Often addiction is intergenerational, learned patterns of interacting within the world.  I draw heavily from the work of Patrick Carnes, Ph.D.,  Robert Naverra, Ph.D, and The Gottman Institute.  Please use the links to read further.  Contact me to begin your journey.  

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The Relationship Checklist 

The following is a synopsis of the Gottman Relationship Checkup, an eleven point list developed by the Gottman Institute following years of research.  As a general framework, this list may illuminate the strengths of your partnership as much as it will chasms between you and those spaces leaving room for improvement and growth.  

People in long-lasting, healthy relationships:

1. invest in them fully, though are not overly involved.

2. have their own identity as a couple; they balance both togetherness and independence. 

3. integrate their children into their relationship without resentment or over-involvement. 

4. support each other openly and honestly throughout life's many and inevitable transitions. 

5. express conflict, fear, and differences safely. 

6. take care to protect the sexual component of the partnership, balancing this with work and other parts of life. 

7. work to maintain their mutual interests, and spend time together enjoying life and each others' company. 

8. can count on one another as a place where vulnerability is accepted and encouragement can be expected. 

9. remain a romantic conceptualization about their relationship over time. 

10. have far more positive moments than negative ones. 

11. manage conflict productively, confronting tumult without chaos.