The decision to initiate counseling as a couple can be extremely difficult and scary as it requires you to admit some level of dissatisfaction with your “fairy tale.” Some people avoid couples therapy because of the assumption that things have to be really bad before turning to counseling. And, sometimes it is really bad. But, other times, people seek couples therapy as a tool to deepen their connection. Perhaps this is a dating couple who just moved to Seattle, an engaged couple wanting to be intentional in their preparation for marriage or a married couple wanting to redefine their relationship in the “empty-nester” phase. The decision to initiate counseling as a couple can also be intimidating because it’s inviting a stranger into the messiness of your most intimate relationship.
Couples therapy can be a short or longer-term process that varies based on the values and goals of the couple. In the first few sessions, we will explore what’s been going on that led you to counseling (e.g., conflict, feeling “off,” season of transition) as well as explore the individual backgrounds you bring into the relationship. I practice from an emotion-focused perspective, which means I am primarily attentive to your emotional needs and how you experience connection and safety within the relationship. I will also attend to how your family and relational histories play a role in your current relational dynamics. At times, referral for individual therapy can be helpful alongside couples work.
- Unresolved conflict
- Intimacy issues and sex
- Conflict with sexuality and spirituality
- Communication issues
- Seattle specific issues (SAD, tech professionals, etc.)
- Gender roles
- Value conflict
- Growth & deepening connection
- Life-work balance (e.g., professional students)
- Being new to Seattle
Who Needs Couples Therapy?
Engaged and Newly Married
Commitment may bring out uncertainties about who you are as individuals, partners, and lovers. The process of creating a family from a partnership can benefit from intentional preparation and exploration.
You’ve been together a long time and the relationship has lost its spark. There’s more conflict, less intimacy, and less confidence that things will magically improve.
A relationship can feel really different once the family structure changes and you’re alone together after 20+ years of caring for children. It’s common to feel sadness and loss, disconnection, and disappointment due to unmet expectations.
Relationships are hard. You can be happy and confident in your relationship and still benefit from the support of therapy. We can address things like relational patterns, communication styles, intimacy, cultural/societal stressors, family planning, living in Seattle, and finances.
How Does Couples Counseling Work?
My approach to couples therapy focuses on creating safety, facilitating healing, and teaching skills so that both partners can authentically be themselves within the relationship. Practically, this looks like being able to talk about one’s feeling and thoughts with a partner who can listen without judgment or conditional support. It is also looks like managing conflict, dissatisfactions, incompatibilities, and hurt in a manner that does not threaten the commitment of the relationship. My work as a couples therapist incorporates the research from The Gottman Institute, Emotion Focused Therapy, Imago Therapy, and psychodynamic theory.
I work with couples of any gender, sexual orientation, or relationship status. I have offices in Seattle and Bellevue and can also offer online sessions so that we have the flexibility to meet at a time and location that is convenient for your work and family schedule.