Many couples avoid coming to therapy due to a sense of shame—if they need therapy, it must be because there's something wrong with them, or they couldn't make it on their own, or some other painful self-judgment. The reality is, most couples struggle from time to time, and therapy can make a huge difference in the outcome of these struggles.
I like to think of couples counseling as self-care for a relationship: a good way to nourish and improve the connection, rather than a last-ditch effort to save it when it's nearly finished. That being said, I've helped couples come back from the brink, and reduced conflict in very high-intensity disputes. It's really never too late until someone decides it is. Don't wait until things are bleak to start bringing trust and communication back into your relationship—start now!
Often in my work with couples I take on more of a coaching role. Rather than fostering a therapeutic relationship with me, I guide each partner to communicate more clearly and effectively with the other. I often act as a translator, helping each person gain clarity on their own position and then share it in a constructive way. I am fair and empathic with each side, helping partners see what's valid in how the other is seeing things and moving towards a resolution that works for both.
My couples work is informed by the research and methods of John and Julie Gottman, premier couples therapists who have pioneered in the field to develop fast, effective approaches based in neuroscience and psychology. Another influence is the Interpersonal Effectiveness skills from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (similar to Assertiveness Training in Cognitive Behavior Therapy). These are skills-based approaches for changing dynamics between people to help people know their goals and communicate them effectively without arousing defensiveness or conflict.
Polyamory and nonmonogamy
In the Bay Area, many people are exploring beyond the boundaries of the traditional monogamous relationship. I am well-versed and comfortable working with the dynamics that arise with various models of consensual nonmonogamy, such as open relationships, polyamory, and other structures. I am happy to work with individuals, dyads, and other subsets as well as seeing the whole polycule if appropriate.
Frequent topics include communication, jealousy and insecurity, setting limits and expectations, and navigating issues of disclosure. I am happy to work with those who are in the early stages of considering opening their relationship as well as those with established relationships. I particularly enjoy helping people move towards "kitchen table" style polyamory, bringing more openness and communication into their relationships.