I work with traditional and “non-traditional” families, including married and unmarried couples with or without children, adoptive parents, multi-generational households, and single moms and dads. Having successfully worked with a wide range of issues and dynamics common to partner and family relationships, I’ve seen that the host of reasons that typically bring people in to therapy most often boil down to variations on several core themes:
- Equality Issues and Power Dynamics: gender roles; money and finances; division of household chores; parent-child triangulation and alliances; growing adolescent independence; or adult-adult or adult-child power struggles.
- Unhealthy or Ineffective Conflict: blaming and criticizing; controlling or demanding behavior; passive-aggressiveness; avoidance and withdrawal; explosive anger and use of threats; or repeating family-of-origin enactments.
- Intimacy Issues: loneliness; despair; jealousy; lack of closeness or warmth; feeling “smothered;” defensiveness; mistrust; feeling left out or disconnected; inability to have heartfelt conversations; or sexual dissatisfaction or infidelity.
- Parenting Concerns: trouble at school; “acting out” behaviors; depression; social awkwardness or anxiety; differences in parenting values; disagreement about discipline styles; or imbalances in parental involvement.
My work with couples and families goes to the heart of these common issues and concerns through focusing on three key areas: 1) promoting effective communication, 2) strengthening healthy attachment relationships, and 3) examining relevant relationship patterns (eg. family dynamics). An initial emphasis is placed on creating a sense of safety and respect, while each member is supported in “being real” and participating with authenticity. We simultaneously clarify purpose and establish direction for the work that we will do together in coming sessions.
Therapy with couples and families tends to begin rapidly and to proceed with greater intensity than in individual therapy. Consequently, significant progress can often happen in weeks or months, rather than months or years. I typically see couples and families weekly or every two weeks, and with multiple people it is usually desirable for sessions to be 75 or 100 minutes in length. Changes that can often occur after several months are:
- Clearer, More Honest and Heartfelt Communication
- Less “Stuckness” in Family Relationships
- Warmer and More Satisfying Connections
- More Realistic Expectations of One Another
- Healthier Boundaries
- Greater Appreciation for the Challenges of Close Relationships
- More Productive Conflict and Ability to Navigate Differences
- Increased Ability to Work Together Towards Shared Goals
- Improvement in Problematic Behaviors
- Greater Feelings of Trust, Hope, Aliveness, and Gratitude
If you are wondering if couples or family therapy may be right for you, I encourage you to read more about my Approach or call 415-312-0318 for a free initial phone consultation. I would be happy to address concerns you may have or answer any questions about how the process of couples and family therapy “works.”