- 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
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 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 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 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.
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 Trauma and Affairs.
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 c0-workers than with our significant others.
- Communicating your feelings, and not just your thoughts, wishes, or needs.
Rituals for Connection
An exciting part about starting your life together is creating new traditions. How will you celebrate the major holidays? Birthdays? Anniversaries? What will the meals be like in your home? What traditions would you like to carry from your family of origin into your new family?
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 your relationship’s strengths and needs before beginning treatment. Therefore, the first four sessions are focused primarily on assessment. The assessment phase serves several beneficial purposes. You and your partner will get a sense of my style as a therapist and will be able to determine if you would like to continue working with me. This phase allows me to get a better understanding of your relationship so that I can determine if I can meet your needs as a 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.
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/