What are some of the main reasons couples come to see me for therapy?
My Couples Therapy Practice integrates Imago, EFT, and PACT Couples Therapy approaches. These models are extremely powerful, and very effective when creatively combined. Another unique aspect of my practice is my ability to combine Couple’s therapy expertise with expertise in ADHD/ADD. I also work with Catastrophic Grief and Loss.
Couples meetings are usually 90 minute sessions scheduled weekly or biweekly. Initial sessions are structured to create a safe and welcoming environment where partners learn about the neurobiology of secure attachment bonds. Using the Imago Dialogue, partners slow way down, to “cross the bridge over to their partner’s world” to listen deeply and empathically, and through my facilitation work, they are helped to become aware of their partner’s neurobiological “tender spots” from their background experiences. We identify the old attachment needs and longings. This is so helpful to enable both to “separate the past from present”, clear out the blocks in their “relational space” and feel more hope for their present life and connection. In this way, both can move from “unconscious reactivity to conscious intentionality” and find each other again, perhaps in a new way for the first time. Imago techniques are especially helpful with the ADHD/ADD brain style. For more on Imago, see Harville and Helen Hendrix’s video on resources page.
Using techniques from EFT (Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy), I help partners identify the unhelpful cycle of interaction that is causing disconnection for each partner, and help them shift to a different way of being with each other. They move from unhealthy withdrawal, shut down or fighting behaviors to being able to become more open and vulnerable. Partners learn to recognize their own part in the reactive dance, and how they trigger their partner. The aim is to help them understand their deeper feelings, and attachment longings, become softer, and reach for their partner in a neurobiologically informed way that invites success. When partners become safe for each other, they provide a safe haven in the storms of life, which helps both physically, immune system wise, emotionally, and spiritually. (See Dr. Susan Johnson’s video clip on this website.) EFT techniques also provide a roadmap or guide for healing “attachment injuries”, which is any form of betrayal that has caused a “crack” in the attachment bond, and absolutely needs repair.
The Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy (PACT) developed by Stan Tatkin, uses the latest research in neuroscience, attachment and the biology of arousal to help partners move toward secure functioning. The techniques and psychoeducation I provide as a Certified Level I and Level II Practitioner help partners understand how people act and react within relationships on the basis of their brain; some areas of your brain are wired to reduce threat and danger and seek security, while others are geared to establish mutuality and loving connection. In other words, we are wired for love, and we are wired for war.
PACT techniques help partners move toward secure functioning in the context of real interactions at home; I often will help a couple “stage” a better way of interacting than they have been doing at home; this can truly be fun! I help them focus on moment-to-moment shifts in their partner’s face, body, and voice, to better understand their partner. In this way, they learn how to develop “owner’s manuals” on their partners, to understand their attachment style, their psychobiology, and how to help soothe their tender spots. Being able to soothe the hard spots and amplify the positive moments makes for a strong bond. The couples I help also come up with shared agreements that put their couplehood first (creating a couple bubble). We work toward the concept of “true mutuality” (it has to be as good for one as the other) with no threat in the relational space, where the concepts of fairness, sensitivity and kindness constitute the ethos that permeates the space. We seek to renew safety and create secure attachment bonds, where passion can be reengaged.
Additional Couples Servies
"Getting the Love You Want"
Annapolis GTLYW WS 2020
“Then love knew it was called love.
And when I lifted my eyes to your name, suddenly your heart showed me my way”
~ Pablo Neruda