Couples Counseling

  • Choosing the right relationship, dating and attraction
  • Premarital counseling
  • Marriage counseling
  • Couples counseling for communications, intimacy, money and power issues
  • Maintaining relationships
  • Infidelity and betrayal
  • Conflict management
  • Addiction and recovery
  • Couples and ADHD
couples counseling relationships

Relationship Challenges

Relationships require work and are bound to face challenges large and small. Simple, everyday stressors can strain an intimate relationship, and major sources of stress often threaten the stability of the relationship. Chronic relationship conflicts and ADHD can contribute to mental health conditions, like depression or anxiety, affect physical health or lead to feelings of guilt, shame, or anger. Sometimes people resort to addictive behaviors to avoid confronting the source of the conflict.

Nervous about Couples Counseling?

The idea of going to couples counseling can be very unsettling. It is easy to imagine all types of uncomfortable scenarios in the therapist's office. However, the alternative of not going at all can lead to much worse. Finding a professional help is a courageous first step to take for the sake of your relationship.

Premarital Counseling

Premarital counseling can be transformational in the world where half of all divorces occur within the first 7 years of marriage. We can identify the areas that are likely to cause conflict later on— finances, parenting, career goals, family dynamics, among others—and either work through these in the early stages of the relationship, or develop a plan to address them in the future. Research found that couples who had participated in premarital counseling were 31% less likely to divorce.

Marriage Counseling

Marriage and couples counseling can help couples to reconnect, improve their communication and rebuild trust. My clients include straight and gay couples, new and newly engaged couples, those in long term relationships, and couples in crisis. Couples get help in breaking down barriers, so that each person can see the other’s viewpoint. We also address difficulties such as long standing areas of conflict, infidelity, divorce, or additional challenges caused by illnesses or addiction.

ADHD in a Relationship

One partner's ADHD impacts many interactions with the other partner, including meeting practical obligations in the relationship, such as getting to dinner on time, picking up after an activity, remembering to remember the errands, or consistently taking care of bills. Adults with ADHD are twice as likely to separate, divorce, or report less marital satisfaction as couples without ADHD. Every couple faces its own unique challenges, but when one partner has ADHD, the relationship may require additional support. Here is the link to some resources I recommend to my clients with ADHD: ADHD Resources.

Couples Therapy - The Gottman Method

The Relationship enrichment services that I provide are based on Gottman Method Couples Therapy, a goal-oriented, structured, and scientifically-based approach built upon over 40 years of research.We work on recognizing emotions, building skills for managing conflict, repairing the couple's friendship and love, and creating a system of shared meaning in a relationship based on trust and commitment. I have completed Levels 1, 2, and 3 training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy, as well as training for 'Treating Affairs and Trauma', and 'Treating Couples in Addiction Recovery'.

Creating or Updating Love Maps

The couples learn to build or update their love maps that represent the inner view of the partner's world. They also practice good communication skills leading up to mastery of the stress reducing conversation.

Speaker and Listener Communication Skills

Key components of good communication skills consist of:

  • Listening without trying to solve your partner’s problems or offering advice.
  • Communicating empathy for the speaker.
  • Listening with the same undivided attention one would give to the boss. We often communicate more clearly and patiently with our co-workers than with our significant others.
  • Communicating wishes, needs, and feelings, in addition to thoughts.

Rituals for Connection

An exciting part for new relationships is about creating new traditions. How will you celebrate the major holidays? Birthdays? Anniversaries? What will the meals be like in your home? What traditions do you bring from your family of origin? Couples who have been together for a while have an opportunity to re-examine their rituals for connection and build on the ones that work for them.

Processing Disagreements

Managing conflict is stressful when you have no tools at your disposal. When couples have a specific plan for making their way through disagreements while practicing good communication skills, the stress is reduced. The partners can feel competent in their abilities to share individual views and be heard.

Gottman Method Couples Therapy - Assessment

The effectiveness of The Gottman Method can be partially attributed to the in-depth assessment of couple's relationship strengths and needs before beginning treatment. The first four sessions are focused primarily on the assessment. The assessment phase serves several beneficial purposes. The couple gets a sense of my style as a therapist and will decide if they want to continue working with me. This phase also allows me to get a better understanding of the relationship and the individuals, so that I can determine if I can meet therapeutic needs of the couple.

Story of the Relationship

Session One consists of a warm welcome and a review of my practice policies and informed consent. I will then invite you two to share the story of your relationship, and your relationship philosophy in order to gain a greater understanding of your unique experience as a couple. At the end of the session I will give you instructions to complete the Gottman Relationship Checkup, an integral part to enriching your relationship.

Gottman Relationship Checkup

The Gottman Relationship Checkup is an online assessment that thoroughly assesses a couple’s strengths and challenges. The checkup consists of questions about friendship and intimacy, how well you know your partner, how you manage emotions and conflict, how you share your values and goals, and what gives meaning to your lives.

Individual Stories

In Sessions Two and Three I will meet with each person individually to hear your own story of what brings you to therapy and how you feel about the relationship. We will also explore any family history that you believe will be relevant to the process. Topics will include your commitment to the relationship, your hopes and expectations, and your personal goals. It is important to note that I have a No Secrets Policy. This means that I will not keep information said in this session confidential from your partner. Secrets can create an alliance between the therapist and one partner, which can be damaging to the therapeutic relationship.

Results of the Gottman Relationship Checkup

We all return together for Session Four, the final phase of the assessment, to discuss your completed online assessment (Gottman Relationship Checkup). I will summarize the results of your assessment and discuss goals for treatment. At this point in time, the assessment phase is winding down and it will be time for you and your partner to decide if you would like to continue working with me. If you decide to proceed, we will collaboratively develop goals for treatment.

Sound Relationship House

Our subsequent sessions will consist of research-based treatment and exercises specific to your relationship. We will focus on managing conflict constructively, enhancing your relationship and intimacy, and creating shared meaning.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Dr. John Gottman considers the presence of Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling in a relationship as the most destructive and biggest predictors of divorce and separation, and calls them "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse".

How Elaine Can Help

Please contact me if you would like to enrich your relationship and if you can get behind the Gottman approach. I also offer Couples Gottman assessments - full and mini packages Gottman Couples Assessments Packages.

Elaine's Blog Posts on Couples Counseling

Here is the link to interesting articles for my Couples Counseling clients - https://askcounseling.com/category/couples-relationships/

Elaine's Couples Counseling Resources

Here is the link to various resources that I mention to my Couples Counseling clients - https://askcounseling.com/couples-resources/

Gottman Approved Member