My Integrative Couples Therapy Approach

Are you looking to deepen a strong relationship or restore a troubled one? My approach is practical and flexible. I work collaboratively with you to meet your unique needs by integrating a variety of approaches. We may combine communication  and skill development (Gottman and cognitive-behavioral methods), changing stuck patterns (systemic approaches), and working with deep emotion to protect or recover love, trust and a safe emotional connection (emotion-focused therapy).

Learning Specific Skills

I help couples learn research-based skills for communicating, managing  conflict, enhancing friendship and creating shared meaning.

This involves learning  “emotional attunement,” which is based in a deep understanding of each other.  Attunement involves practical skills for awareness, tolerance, understanding, non-defensive listening and empathy.

In practice, this may include learning how to raise issues gently and effectively, to calm down and sooth yourself and each other, to deescalate conflict, to repair and move forward after fights, and to engage in effective problem-solving to arrive at practical solutions.

Building Emotional Trust and Safety in Your Relationship

Do you get frustrated and become contentious and adversarial when you disagree? Do you get stuck in negative patterns? My job is to help you collaborate and be responsive—to be allies, not adversaries.

As research shows, most ongoing problems or conflicts—about money, parenting, intimacy, work/family balance, or household chores—have deep meaning and relate to important values, needs and life dreams that each of you have, such as safety, security, fairness or freedom.

I help you get to the heart of the matter by talking about these deeper issues and meanings beneath the conflict.  Once you understand and respect each others values and dreams , we can  more effectively work on problem-solving and compromise to create solutions that preserve and honor your core needs and values.

Other conflicts are about the sort of relationship and connection you want with each other. Are you there for me? Do you really care about and value me? Can I count on you when I really need you to be close and responsive? Can I trust you?

To address these conflicts about the fundamental nature of the relationship itself, we work to transform key emotional moments when there may be  a breach of attunement or trust.  I do this by helping you to be emotionally present and attuned so that you can  move from hurt, fear or anger to understanding and responsiveness. I teach you to use attunement skills to build trust and safety in your relationship.

I help you to attune and respond rather than attack and defend in order to do what successful couples do–to actually use your disagreements to deepen and strengthen your relationship.

Provides Structured Blueprints and Exercises

I am active in providing practical advice, guidance & structured “blueprints” and exercises. These can help you:

  • Learn to gently and effectively raise complaints
  • Learn to slow down and avoid emotional flooding & destructive escalation during conflict
  • Move from gridlock to dialogue about repetitive conflicts by respectfully communicating about the deeper meaning of the conflict and then searching together for practical solutions.
  • Learn to repair & get back on track during a fight
  • Learn to process or review a fight without restarting it so that you can recover & move past the conflict.
  • Deepen your connection in non-conflict situations and use the relationship to buffer each of you from external stress
  • Create shared meaning together and make your life dreams come true

My personal style is warm and collaborative , and I bring humor and compassion to our work.

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