In working with couples, I first focus on fostering an environment that is safe and feels fair to both partners. During the first meeting, I also listen to each partner’s perspective and pay attention to their stated goals and their reasons for seeking therapy.
A couple’s challenges are unique to that couple, but they often entail one or more of the following: 1) conflicting expectations about the relationship; 2) conflicts over roles in the relationship, especially when kids are involved; 3) core resentment or anger towards the other rooted in some painful history of the relationship; or 4) a pattern of criticism, blame, defensiveness or stonewalling.
It is common for couples to develop habitual patterns of reacting rapidly to the other based on perceptions that are at times incomplete or even inaccurate. In couples work there is a chance to slow things down, to reflect on a given interaction, to discern what was actually happening within oneself and the other, and to practice and develop more positive and effective ways of relating and communicating. I frequently integrate aspects of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT) and Structural Family Therapy in my work with couples.