A letter from the Clinical Director:
All relationships reach a lull at one point or another. Some last beyond the ten to thirty years mark, while others cower while in its early stages. The reason for this is dependent upon two things, life events and the couple’s ability to remain harmonious. Throughout doing couples work, crossing encounters of addiction, infidelity, infertility and sexual struggles, I have found the most important anecdote to life stresses to be communication. As there are multiple approaches to couples work, such as Gottman, Imago, Narrative and Emotionally Focused Couple’s therapy, each of these therapeutic approaches have one thing in common. They comprise the basic dynamics of a sender receiver exercise, allowing each partner to fully express their experience, while encouraging the other partner to listen and mirror back what they have heard. This process assists with the synchrony of the couple without fully putting emotions, pride, stress and connection aside.
A question I often ask couples and families in session is, how do you support each other? A common answer I hear is, “by encouraging them,” or “doing X,Y,Z for them.” The reality that I encourage clients to recognize within their relationship is that support is not fully explored. Without a complete dialogue surrounding significant topics, which enable the relationship to grow, gaps are created and communication breakdown. After having a complete discussion of support, a consensus arises where each spouse is fully aware and knowledgeable of what their partner needs within the relationship.
With a breakdown in communication, argumentation develops. This creates an open space for criticism and defensiveness, where each partner is unable to express their own needs from their significant other and the relationship. Instead, I encourage each party to tell each other what they want, instead of focusing on what they do not want in the relationship. I work with the receiver, partner listening to needs, respond to their loved on using open-ended questions. This encouraged further conversation to gain clarity. Lastly, just as the Gottman Model emphasizes, the partner who is sharing their needs is encouraged to express gratitude and appreciation to their partner for allowing them to be heard. This formation of interaction imposes exploration, connection and eventually intimacy back to a relationship to which has experienced distress or hostility.
With Marriage, Couple and Sex Therapy, I focus on joining partners to cherish the relationship and teach the relationship as if it is its own person. I am a strong believer that each relationship has its own personality, likes, dislikes and forms of communication. This bond is able to grow, connect with intimacy and romance, but needs to start from a stable foundation from each of its partners. In session I use expressive, experiential and narrative therapy to enhance communication, growth and compassion within the relationship.